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AIU Steel Valley Center Wins Equity Award

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s (AIU) Steel Valley Family Center in Homestead was honored in April by the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) for its work furthering equity in early childhood education. The Steel Valley Family Center was recognized with the Silver level of the Equity in Early Childhood Education Champion Award.

According to co-organizers The Pennsylvania Key, this award honors early childhood education programs and professionals who are “embracing diversity and full inclusion as strengths, upholding fundamental principles of fairness and justice, and working to eliminate structural inequities that limit equitable learning opportunities.”

“It's an honor to be acknowledged for the work that we do to help to improve the literacy skills of children and families in our underserved communities,” said Holly Cherpak, Senior Site Director of the Steel Valley Family Center. “We felt that the work we were doing with the Early Literacy Support Hub (HUBS) Grant was a good fit for this.”

Through the HUBS grant, Cherpak and her staff work to expose children to books in their home during home visits, along with other activities. This work is also being done at AIU Family Centers in Clairton, Highlands, and McKeesport.

Cherpak points to research that shows children in low-income families are less likely to have books in their homes. That fact, she said, puts children at a disadvantage as they prepare for Kindergarten.

“The literacy HUBS help to expose children to books that are inclusive and culturally appropriate,” said Cherpak. “The HUBS also help expose children to different literacy activities each month featuring a variety of different books.”

Steel Valley Family Center also holds in-house events that build on its early childhood education services through the Parents as Teachers curriculum. Additional events held by the center include a monthly book club, a parent/child activity group focused on early childhood literacy, and quarterly family literacy events.

“I am very proud of the staff and the work they do at the Steel Valley Family Center,” said Lorene Vollman, Program Director of AIU’s Family and Community Education Services, who oversees AIU Family Centers. “I know that Holly is also very proud of her team!”

An appreciation event honoring Steel Valley Family Center and the rest of the award winners will be held Wednesday, April 24 at 2:00 p.m. at the Pennsylvania State Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg. The AIU congratulates the Steel Valley Family Center and its staff for this achievement and continuing to fulfill our mission of serving every learner.

LINK: Equity in Early Childhood Education Award Winners