United Way
of Massachusetts Bay
and Merrimack Valley

August 10, 2017

How a mom changed the course of her child’s education in one day

Simple developmental screening methods and early interventions made all the difference for Danielle, and thousands of children like her.

Scroll down to watch the video of Marsha and Danielle’s story in their own words.

Marsha says that the day she went to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester for early education and care for her young children was “one of the most important days of my life.”

Eight years ago, when Marsha lost her husband, she found herself as a single parent with six children to get up and out the door every morning on her way to work as a nurse. With 3 kids in school and 3 in daycare, Marsha needed all the extra hands she could get.

“I was just so grateful every day to have somewhere to bring my children and know that they are cared for.”

But what she got was so much more than care, and would have a life-long impact on her child’s education.

Marsha’s youngest daughter Danielle had a lot of energy, even for a two year old, when she entered the early education program at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester. But what some would have identified as behavioral problems, the highly trained staff recognized as potential development delays.

As a result, Danielle was screened and found to have dyslexia. From there, she was put on a track to receive early interventions and support from the very start of her education.

Without these screenings, children like Danielle would have a much more challenging road ahead in school. But with the right support and interventions, Danielle has been able to thrive. Last year, Danielle received second honors in her 5th grade class. And Marsha’s older children, who also benefited from the programs and support at Dorchester Boys & Girls Club throughout their childhood, are thriving in high school and their careers.

United Way’s DRIVE initiative is working to expand this important screening across Greater Boston, having screened over 4,000 kids since it began in 2013. Results to date show over 42% of children in Greater Boston with potential or strong concern of not developing on track. Most importantly, when re-screened, 62% of the children who had “strong concerns” for delays had shown improvement.

“Boys & Girls Clubs is fortunate to partner with United Way to offer screenings and evaluations,” said Mary Kinsella Scannell, Vice President at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester. “United Way is one of the most important partners that we have because of the way they fund our programs and offer resources specific to the needs of our families.”

Our partner agencies, like the Boys & Girls Club of Dorchester, have also used the data to identify specific areas where children are behind in development and address them. In Dorchester, for example, they created Fine Motor Kits to give to their families, having identified that is the most difficult area for the kids in their programs.

“What my kids received at the Boys & Girls Club helped them in their education and career immensely,” said Marsha. “We’ve traveled a long, rough road and the Boys & Girls Club has always been there.”

There are thousands of other families like Marsha’s, and children like Danielle, who just need a little extra support to reach their full potential. And with partners like the Boys & Girls Clubs and programs like DRIVE, it doesn’t have to be a matter of luck for them to get there.

Watch Marsha and Danielle’s Full Story: