CANTON – As a parent engagement coordinator at the Early Childhood Resource Center, Emily Baughman’s passion is helping struggling parents – particularly mothers – to secure the resources they need.
For her efforts, she’s being honored by the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund which provides grants for organizations that focus on child and family development.
One of eight “heroes” statewide, Baughman, 36, is being recognized for her dedication to families who seek assistance from the Early Childhood Resource Center, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.
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Baughman said her mission is to offer resources to parents of children of infants up to age 12, to help them overcome such barriers as child care.
“Anything anything they need help with; that’s what we do,” she said. “We’re all-encompassing the family dynamic. I also run parenting classes. We help any parent who’s kind of struggling with discipline, or they don’t know what to do with a 2-year-old who’s into everything. We can (help) in hopes of their becoming the biggest experts on their kids.”
Baughman said she entered the early childhood education field because her husband is active-duty military and she wanted to work, but didn’t want to place her own child in day care.
“I opened my own center and served active-duty families,” she said. “After that, I realized it was something I loved to do; I was good at it. Since then, I’ve loved helping families. If we can help parents, that child gets help.”
‘Emily is an incredible asset to this community.’
Baughman, who serves more than 300 families a year, said that other than obstacles such as child care, parents are hesitant to seek help.
“It can be embarrassment or lack of trust,” she said. “We tend to do things on our own. When I’m trying to identify a need, it’s hard for them. They’re trying to going it alone but in reality, they need help. It’s very difficult for them to reach out for support. We get judged if we don’t do things on our own. We want to take away that judgment. We want to actively help them and walk the journey with them.”
Baughman also works with mothers in transition, that is, those emerging from rehab or incarceration and who want to reintegrate with their children.
“They feel hopeless and lost,” she said. “In my journey with them, I see them grow; they put in so much effort. No walk is the same. But what we specialize in here is the love component. We want to genuinely love on these families. Helping parents to rebuild their lives, that’s how you build a foundation for children.”
Baughman has been at Early Childhood Resource Center for seven years. In addition to her day care center, she previously worked for the SPARK kindergarten preparedness program.
Baughman was nominated by her supervisor, Gary Plauger, who wrote: “Emily has gone above and beyond the call of duty in meeting with and helping parents who are desiring to grow in their relationship with their children. Emily also consistently makes time for the female youth and kinship providers to talk and share their concerns with her.
“She listens with compassion and tries to point the individuals in a direction where they can find solutions to their questions. Emily is an incredible asset to this community and demonstrates that, ‘People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.’ Emily truly cares for her clients.”
“I want to empower them,” Baughman said. “I want them to see themselves as I see them, to help them identify their gifts and learn to love themselves.”
‘One simple act of encouragement, one child at a time by one trusted adult supporter can make all the difference for children.’
Lindsey Williams is executive director of the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund. The agency is funded through dedicated public funds by way of vital statistics fees, along with some federal funding. It is a member of the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention.
“We fund a variety of programs across Ohio that help parents support children,” Williams said. “It’s ‘upstream’ funding, which means that before a situation escalates requiring intervention from child protective services. Our goal is to increase [protection] for families, through things like parental resilience, and offering concrete support in a time of need, parenting and child development and social and emotional competencies.”
Williams said the “Be a Hero” awards are held in conjunction with Child Abuse Prevention Month in Ohio.
“‘Be a Hero’ really speaks to how anyone can be a hero in the eyes of a child,” she said. “One simple act of encouragement, one child at a time by one trusted adult supporter can make all the difference for children.”
Williams said the problem has been at a consistent rate for last several years.
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“There was a dip in reports during the pandemic when children were doing virtual schooling because mandated reporters such as teachers, counselors and coaches didn’t have eyes on kids,” she said. “It wasn’t that it wasn’t occurring. Children were probably at higher risk. We just weren’t getting reports.”
The awards were given during a kickoff on April 7, she said.
Baughman said her job is her passion.
“I’m not there to be a caseworker or overseer,” she said. “I’m there to say, ‘Where are you at, where do you want to go, and let’s work to get you there.’ It’s nice to know other people are seeing your passion. The nice thing about our center, any employee across the board can help them out. I just wanted to be a support. I just want kids to thrive.”
Baughman noted that programs at the Early Childhood Resource Center, 1718 Cleveland Ave. NW, are free.
“I can’t believe I get paid to do this,” she said. “It’s the greatest job ever.”
Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or email@example.com
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To report child abuse or neglect, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has a statewide toll free number at 855-642-4453, or call 330-451-8032 in Stark County.
To learn more about the Early Childhood Resource Center, visit www.ecresourcecenter.org.