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Littlest Learners at Heart of Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency Services

February 18, 2005

All families want the best for their children. And the people working in Iowa's Area Education Agencies consider it their mission to help all children discover their potential. The Mississippi Bend AEA Early Childhood staff is easy to spot as they lug canvas bags filled with toys and other tools of the trade, these teachers provide essential services to children and families. The emphasis and importance of early childhood education has escalated, and Iowa's AEAs have always enabled Iowa's youngest learners, beginning at birth, to be healthy and successful.

"I know that if we had not had the AEA to help my son, he would not have been able to accomplish what he did," said one parent. "They taught us things that needed to be done and helped us get through all those early difficulties of not knowing what would come next."

To take part in Early ACCESS, you must have a child age birth to 3 years old who may have a health condition that could affect his/her growth and development; or may have delays in his or her ability to play, think, talk, and move. Children are referred by parents, grandparents, child care providers, neighbors, health and human service personnel and the medical profession. A referral can only be made with a parent's consent. Early ACCESS is a partnership between families with young children, birth to age three and providers from local Public Health, Human Services, Child Health Specialty Clinic, Area Education Agencies and other community partners.

Services typically take place in the child's home, the natural environment and are at no charge.

Perhaps the most important service is service coordination, which connects families with appropriate services and resources. There are many programs, agencies, services, people and resources within your community to help your infant or toddler and family. Early ACCESS helps you to connect with the resources and services that match your priorities and concerns.

AEA staff members also work with children ages 3-5 within the home and community settings, such as daycare and preschool. If a teacher or family member is concerned about a child, AEA staff members observe the child, talk with the family, teachers, and caregivers and make recommendations to address their concerns. Mississippi Bend AEA services can include assistive technology, hearing, speech, family training and counseling, health services, medical evaluations, nursing, nutrition, occupational and physical therapy, psychology, social work, special instruction, vision and transportation.

Iowa's Area Education Agencies are celebrating 30 years as a partner in education. In 1975, Iowa's Area Education Agencies embarked on the journey to equalize educational opportunities for children, regardless of their abilities, wealth or size of their school district. In 2005, Iowa's AEAs celebrate 30 years of providing effective and efficient services to education in Iowa through partnerships with many people and organizations.

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