H.E.A.R.T.S. Connection Family Resouce Center has the best disability library in Central California. It is available for parents, teachers, therapists, college students, and community members, Monday through Friday, 9:30 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. The library includes books, videos, cassette tapes, packets, etc. We can access the Internet and have CD ROM information on rare syndromes. We currently have satellite libraries in Tehachapi, Mojave, Lake Isabella, California City, Delano and Ridgecrest that are staffed by 15 hour per week employees. For a fee or volunteer hours, families can also check out adaptive toys from our Toy Lending Library.
Parent to Parent Support/Mentor Program
H.E.A.R.T.S. Connection has trained staff and mentor parents who can are available to provide Parent to Parent Support. We can match up parents of children with similar diagnosis.
H.E.A.R.T.S. Connection offers a support group for family members of children with disabilities or special health care needs. Each group is facilitated by a trained support group facilitator. Group time is a relaxed time for networking, support and sharing of the unique experience and lifestyle when families are caring for children with special needs. Guest speakers are often scheduled to present during support group meetings. Groups are held at varying times during the month in English and Spanish.
While there are some distinction to some of the groups, the majority of support groups are generic in their representation of disability. The reason for this is that we have found that although the disability may be different, the emotions experienced by families are similar. However, we do have a group which targets parents of children birth to 36 months. There is a group for parents of children with Asperger's syndrome and a support group for high school students diagnosised wtih Asperger's syndrome. We also have a Spanish/English speaking Down Syndrome group and a Spanish/English speaking Autism support group.
H.E.A.R.T.S. Connection provides FREE IEP trainings in English, Spanish and Sign Language. Check Trainings and Workshops for dates. We have IEP clinics each month, where families can bring their individual issues to the table for discussion and leave with a plan of action and additional resources.
H.E.A.R.T.S. Connection provides sibling events on a quarterly basis. Siblings (of special needs children) between the ages of 8-13 can participate. Facilitated discussion regarding sibling issues is provided.
Family Social Events
Each year H.E.A.R.T.S. Connection provides several opportunties for families to meet on a social basis in a protected atmosphere. One fun event is our Spring Fling held each spring at a local park. Another annual event is our Fall Festival held in September of each year. It is held at a private park. At our 2008 event, the children dressed up in their favorite superhero costume. Carnival games and entertainment are provided at no cost to the families.
The Kids on the Block Program
“The Kids on the Block” is a troupe of life-sized puppets who are used as an educational tool to teach fourth grade students what it is like to be disabled or have special problems. The material presented was developed as part of a nationwide program, “The Kids on the Block, Inc.” Every effort has been made to balance sound information with a positive attitude, creating a very authentic and entertaining program. This program is made possible by support from Community Connection for Child Care, Kern Regional Center and Junior League of Bakersfield. Our puppeteers are dedicated volunteers from our community and last year presented the program to over 3,000 pupils.