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Blue Ribbon Foundation Grant Helps Catch Early Childhood Health Issues

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By: Anthony Matrisciano
March 30, 2011

Screeners identify vision, hearing, autism and other conditions among 500 kids

March 30, 2011, Wilkes-Barre, PA — The Pocono Alliance recently coordinated efforts to improve the lives of more than 500 young children in Monroe County by screening them for health, social and emotional disabilities and learning impairments.

The Stroudsburg-based nonprofit identified potential issues among nearly 100 low-income children, who were tested thanks to a $9,300 Mini-Grant from The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Whether screeners noticed the early signs of a preventable vision issue or intervened with a parent whose child was misbehaving in school, the Pocono Alliance’s "Healthy Start Early Childhood Screening Program" helped children get assistance early.

"The power of The Blue Ribbon Foundation’s grant can’t be measured in dollars," said Michael Tukeva, executive director of the Pocono Alliance, whose organization refers residents to a range of services to address health, housing and transportation issues. "Identifying and remediating early health and developmental challenges can help a young child avoid years of struggling and a lifetime of associated problems."

To administer the screening program, Pocono Alliance contracted with five local providers that performed hearing, vision, developmental and cognitive tests for 3- to 5-year-old children at local day care centers, government buildings and schools.

Screeners from organizations such as Developmental Education Services of Monroe County, Pocono Services for Families & Children and Easter Seals of Eastern Pennsylvania flagged potential cases of autism, dyslexia and an array of other conditions.

Eighty-one children, or 16 percent of those tested, were identified as needing additional support, and the Pocono Alliance referred them to the agencies and organizations best equipped to meet their needs.

"Too often community members go through life with physical, emotional or mental challenges that could have been spotted and helped when they were young children," said Cynthia A. Yevich, executive director of The Blue Ribbon Foundation. "Our Foundation’s grant to the ‘Healthy Start Screening Program’ is an investment that can pay lifelong returns."

About Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCNEPA offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to nearly 550,000 individuals in 13 counties in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. The company’s mission is to provide integrated health care services and products to improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of health care in the populations BCNEPA serves.

BCNEPA established its private, nonprofit Blue Ribbon Foundation in 2002 to invest in health education and prevention initiatives that produce measurable health improvements and help manage long-term health costs for the residents of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.

Media Contact:
Anthony Matrisciano