Classroom doors are closed and the hallways are silent when concertgoers pass through the doors of the Delta Performing Arts Center for an evening concert. There's a totally different vibe during the day, as Delta Family Center serves as the hub for over 11 onsite community education programs.
The historic building at 822 Grand Avenue was built to house high school students, and later was home to Delta Middle School. The construction of a new middle school directly to the south threw open the door for exciting new opportunities to serve the educational needs of children and adults.
Angela Fedler, director of the Delta Family Center, explains the center's 11 programs are all dedicated to supporting families.
Some of the programs are offered through Delta County Joint School District #50; others are the result of "some really amazing partnerships," Fedler said. Delta Family Center is the recipient of nine grants that finance all the work done in support of families in Delta County.
Fedler is an employee of Delta County Joint School District #50, which facilitates the BELA preschool at the Delta Family Center, as well as the preschools in the elementary schools in Paonia and Hotchkiss. In collaboration with the Colorado Preschool Program, the school district also funds some paid tuition slots in Crawford and Cedaredge.
The school district is also responsible for the Backpack program, headquartered at 822 Grand, which supports parents in their role as their child's first and most important teacher by providing tubbies filled with educational games, books and activities.
The Family Resource Center is the umbrella for a variety of programs that support and assist parents in enriching their child's life. Two types of countywide home visitation programs reach out to parents wherever they feel most comfortable. Onsite, the Family Resource Center administers an Energy Outreach of Colorado grant to help families pay their energy bills -- even if they have no children. Fedler sees this program as a way for the school district to develop relationships with families who do have children. "We have discovered many people have no idea how many services we have to offer to a family, and it helps get them in our doors," she explained. "They see we can be a partner in helping them succeed."
Among those services are Medicaid/CHP+ application assistance, Cooking Matters nutrition/fitness classes, and an after-school health and fitness program for students in grades K-5, delivered in their schools. Next year, the CATCH health and fitness program will expand from Garnet Mesa/Lincoln elementary schools to Paonia and Hotchkiss K-8 with financial support from the Colorado Health Foundation.
Incredible Years is a 14-week parenting class that teachers parents how to employ positive reinforcement skills to help their children succeed. BELA preschool teachers receive some of the same training, to help them deal with problematic behaviors by promoting students' social/emotional competence.
ESL classes are offered through a partnership with the Delta County Libraries. Often while the parents are in English class, their children are attending preschool.
Head Start has had a longstanding partnership with the school district. Head Start offers morning and afternoon classes to about 60 children, who share playground space and food services with the BELA preschoolers.
Because the playground is so heavily used, Fedler said more equipment will be installed this spring.
There's a strong emphasis on "kinder readiness," to make the transition to kindergarten successful for every preschooler. Four times a year, PACT (Parent and Child Together) time features fun activities for parents and children.
The Head Start classrooms are located on the second floor, along with some BELA preschool sections, speech/language therapy offices, the Delta Academy of Applied Learning, a contract school within 50J that serves grades 6-8. The second floor conference room is used for a variety of purposes. And of course there's the auditorium, available for community events as well as school assemblies and music programs. With a large stage and generous seating capacity, the auditorium is a unique asset for the entire county.
Every room on both the first and second floor is being employed in helping the Delta Family Center make a difference in families' lives.
"We're still learning how to describe what we do," Fedler said. "Educating the community as to the vast resources available to them across our county and the impact these resources may have on their students' education are among our top priorities."
A collaborative effort between the Delta County Sheriff's Office and municipal law enforcement agencies throughout Delta County has resulted in a proposal for a 1 percent sales tax increase to fund public safety. A PowerPoint presentation titled "Back the Badge" is starting to make the rounds at city/town council meetings, service club luncheons and other events.