OWEGO (WBNG) – Tioga County Public Health is teaming up with local libraries to provide free resources for families with special needs children.
The first resource library was unveiled Wednesday inside Coburn Free Library in Owego.
“It’s been a dream of mine that I was lucky enough to have the backing of my superiors at the health department to really be on board with our mission to try to get more resources out there to the community,” said Jenna Dyer, a early intervention service coordinator for Tioga County Public Health.
The health department received a $5,000 grant to open resource libraries in the county.
“It is the heart of the library to reach out and to be a resource for absolutely every person in our community,” said the director of Coburn Free Library, Meredith Gallaro. “With the materials that we are providing here, that was sort of a hole that had not been filled and I want to make sure that we as a library are meeting the needs of all our community members.”
A new shelf is located near the lobby that is filled with books and DVD’s for kids and adults that focus on emotional health, cognitive skills, and autism.
“We have some parenting materials here as well so you will be able to see some of the different ways through play that you can build therapeutic skills,” said Gallaro.
There are also toys and games for kids that help improve cognitive and motor skills.
“We are seeing kids who need improved motor control so the things like the lacing toys and the puzzles can help with those,” said Dyer.
There is also equipment that families can test at home such as compression vests, weighted vests, weighted blankets, and tablets for non-verbal children.
Your child’s therapist must be with you at the health department in order to check out these specific items.
“We have an IPAD with some communication apps on them. Those do have to go out with a therapist though, either an occupational therapist or a speech therapist,” said Dryer.
Dryer says the department is hoping that they can soon partner with Medicaid to help families get their own weighed equipment at a lower rate if their trial run is successful.
“A lot of the equipment that’s used for some of our kids in early intervention for therapy is pretty expensive and families can’t always afford to go and buy a weighed blanket. That’s $150. So this is a way that we can let them try the items before they bought them.”
Tioga County Public Health say they hope to expand the initiative and spread resources for every need.
They are asking for feedback so they know what resources are needed.
“We have some comment cards, if we don’t have something you need, let us know and we can get that for you,” said Dryer.
Dryer says its also opening another resource library next Wednesday, February 27 at Waverly Free Library.
Coburn Free Library also says they are planning more story time events for children with special needs.