This Week's Poll


SV4C’s much more than a daycare

During a presentation in Hamilton County last week, Michelle Mattox, Health Services Coordinator and Jennifer Tillery, Lead Family Support Specialist for SV4C’s, explain the services the organization offers to help not only the children succeed, but families as well. -Photo: Submitted

By Tami Stevenson

Suwannee Valley Community Coordinated Child Care, Inc. (SV4C’s) has been serving the North Florida area for more than 20 years and is much more than a daycare center. There services are free to qualifying families. They provide free educational, developmental, family support, and early childhood services to low-income families with children from birth to age 5, pregnant women, and over-income families who have a child with a diagnosed disability. They have nine locations within the four county area they serve in Columbia, Hamilton, Suwannee and Lafayette Counties and currently have 426 children enrolled.

SV4C’s Lead Family Support Specialist Jennifer Tillery along with Health Services Coordinator Michelle Mattox gave a presentation last week in Hamilton County, where the need is great, about the services they offer to families of the children enrolled in their Head Start/Early Head Start program, in conjunction with the Florida Department of Health’s Wellness Initiative.

It is evident, after speaking with Tillery and Mattox, how passionate they are about helping the children and families enrolled in the SV4C’s program. Seeing children succeed is their ultimate goal.

They are unique in the fact that their family services department will visit the home and sit down and asses the family needs, once they are in the program. They help them map out goals and offer referrals for everything from housing to employment to school or even starting their own business. If the family has a need for food, shelter, clothing or help with a light bill being paid, whatever their needs are, they help them get access to comprehensive services. They offer mental health and domestic violence referrals and work with many agencies within the communities they serve. They encourage and enable them to make their own choices and try to follow up with them monthly.

Tillery added their teachers are accredited and are constantly updating their credentials with new training. They have a certain amount of training hours they have to complete each year to be DCF compliant, for example, and offer age appropriate curriculum to the children.

Health services are also offered to their headstart children. Michelle Mattox stated that within the first couple of weeks of school they are all screened for height, weight, hearing, vision, blood levels, risk assessments, tuberculosis, anemia and lead. Within 90 days they a have dental screening completed. If they need dental treatment they work with the parent to get treatment for the children. If need be, they can transport the parent and the child to the dental appointment to take care of the child’s dental work. And if they fail the vision or hearing test they will reach out and help them find a provider that will provide services for them.

“A lot of people do not know all that about our services,” Mattox added. They also conduct social and emotional screening on all the children within the first 30 days of school. Whether it’s speech or language, they will work with them. The whole goal is to bring the children up to where they should be for their age. If there are any suspected delays or developmental delays, they will work with the parents to put together an educational plan, if need be. She added they have academics and school readiness goals to get these children where they should be so when they leave them to go to the school system, to kindergarten, they are on target.

Tillery says she couldn’t agree more with the organization’s philosophy which is, “Suwannee Valley 4 C’s believes that supported by a high quality, early childhood program and access to comprehensive services when needed, every parent has the potential to raise successful, happy and healthy children.” She truly believes linking these families to these services and assisting them in meeting their needs and goals is going to help them rise above and be successful. The children then have a better chance for a good education, a positive self image and being successful themselves.

For more information or to set up an appointment to see if your child qualifies for the program, please call SV4C’s at (386) 754-2222.