Lock Haven Social Work Club Travels to Kidspace in Washington D.C.
Sixteen students and three faculty members from the Commonwealth University-Lock Haven social work department traveled to Washington D.C. for a service trip to the Kidspace program, part of the House of Ruth network of social service programs.
Drs. Ross and Granich and professor Park, along with the students, toured the Kidspace facility, which is an educational/development center for children 6 weeks to 5 years old, many of whom are experiencing homelessness or family violence.
The Kidspace facility is a state-of-the-art building that opened two years ago after the previous school was no longer habitable. A long-term fundraising campaign made the new construction possible, which has expanded early care and education access for children and families in need of support.
The school's children come from the surrounding community, which experiences social problems such as poverty, violence, trauma, and lack of resources. The Kidspace program provides family-centered early education to children and their families. The school provides many resources including three meals a day to the children, occupational and speech therapy, mental health support, and developmental screenings. Goals for the program include school readiness skills, increasing communication skills, and promoting social and emotional development.
During the Kidspace visit, the Lock Haven students and faculty listened to a presentation about the program with the director and assistant director of the school, participated in a question-and-answer session, and toured the facility. The Lock Haven group also donated items to Kidspace during their visit, including diapers, books, and clothing for children in the program.
Kidspace's bright colors and beautiful hand-painted wall murals made the school inviting and child friendly. The Kidspace staff shared details of the resources and support networks available to children and families they serve through collaborations with several community agencies.
As future social workers, the students gained knowledge of the scope of service needs in urban areas such as the Washington D.C. metro area, particularly for communities with high rates of poverty and violence. They discussed with Kidspace staff the similarities and differences of urban and rural areas, such as the challenges that both types of communities experience with access to transportation.
After the visit to Kidspace, the group toured the mall area of of the capitol and visited museums and monuments.