Early Childhood Town Hall Meeting Brings Expert Panelists to UM-Flint

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Early Childhood Education at UM-Flint
Early Childhood Education at UM-Flint

Area child care professionals, administrators, and others who routinely serve Flint families impacted by lead exposure due to the water crisis will attend an already full-capacity Early Childhood Town Hall Meeting from 9:30 to 11:30am Friday, March 4, 2016 at the University of Michigan-Flint.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, director of the Pediatric Residency Program at Hurley Medical Center and of the MSU and Hurley Children’s Hospital Public Health Initiative, will join other local experts at Northbank Center to offer attendees vital information in a question-and-answer format, specifically addressing the health effects of lead exposure, nutrition-based solutions, and practical ways to assist families affected by the crisis.

“We’re the first contact with the families who are living this every day,” said Della Becker-Cornell, ECDC director. “Many of us have not dealt with this kind of lead problem so we need to be educated so we can support parents. It’s about providing high quality education to children and making sure that our programs meet the kids’ needs.”

Senator Jim Ananich will introduce the panelists who, in addition to Dr. Hanna-Attisha, include:

  • Krista Zvoch, registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), who has worked in Genesee County focusing on community nutrition for families. She oversees the SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education) program at the Genesee Intermediate School District’s Department of Health, Safety and Nutrition.
  • Evilia Jankowski, an experienced school nurse and coordinator of School Health Services for the GISD where she supports Genesee County schools in student health and safety. She is also the President of the Michigan Association of School Nurses.
  • Brooke Burgess MPH, RD, Registered Dietician Coordinator at Genesee County Health Department Women, Infants & Children (WIC).
  • Greg Piontkowski, retired school psychologist at Lapeer Community Schools who has assisted students and their families within the Lapeer County Intermediate School District, including working with teams to develop procedures for evaluating students for physical, emotional, and other impairments. He is active with several community organizations devoted to child advocacy and has mentored school psychologists entering the field.
  • Candace Cowling MSW, Executive Director of Family Futures, an organization devoted to strengthening families and supporting parents through preventative approaches.
  • Erica Willard, Executive Director of Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (MiAEYC) and director of T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Michigan since 2008. She is also an experienced childhood specialist for Michigan’s Great Start Readiness program and a non-profit child care center director.

The event is sponsored by the Greater Flint Association for the Education of Young Children (GFAEYC) along with the UM-Flint Early Childhood Development Center.

“The Flint water crisis has long-term repercussions,” said GFAEYC board member Katie Cawood. “It is a good sign that policy-makers, educators, hospitals, and families are collaborating to help rebuild the broken trust and forge programming that meets the needs of the community.”

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