LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — On Wednesday, Aug. 18, the Lancaster Interagency Coordinating Council (LICC) launched its virtual resource fair — an online tool that compiles information about early intervention resources in Lancaster County.
This virtual resource fair isn’t just a one-day Zoom meeting, although it was launched with an informational Zoom call and walk-through. Upon arriving at the “resource fair,” community members can click through a series of decorative and interactive “rooms” with information about different types of services available in the county.
“It’s a wealth of resources that has been generated by the heart of our early childhood and early learning community,” LICC co-chair Jan Baily said.
Now Baily is excited to share those resources — which cover education, wellness, health, recreation, and more — with caregivers and family members of young children with developmental delays and disabilities.
“As we have begun to engage more parents who have come to the table, there’s a constant theme behind their stories, and that is isolation,” Baily said. “You have a child that just received a diagnosis of, perhaps, autism, and you don’t really know where to turn, and suddenly your world becomes very small.”
Amy Fisher, the other co-chair of the LICC, experienced this feeling of isolation before getting involved with the LICC. Fisher’s son, who is now 9 years old, was diagnosed with autism and received early intervention services.
“I also have a grown adult child who has a diagnosis, so even having gone through it before…I still found myself in that place that Jan talks about, that place of isolation” Fisher said. “You don’t go to the playground and meet families the way parents of typically developing children do.”
The LICC’s virtual resource fair is the kind of tool that Fisher would have liked to have after her son was diagnosed, so she and another parent brought this idea to the LICC.
“Another parent…and I have worked together to bring our ideas to the LICC, to say, ‘This is what we needed,'” Fisher said. “We didn’t want parents to feel alone, we didn’t want them to feel isolated, but most importantly, we wanted them to realize that there is so much out there to support them.”
After holding an in-person resource fair before the COVID-19 pandemic, Fisher wanted to find a way for the LICC to offer virtual support and information for community members in a coronavirus-safe format. An added bonus of the online format is that it can continue being a resource for the community into the future.
“Our launch is really just the beginning, it’s an opportunity for us to say, ‘We’re really excited about this, and we want people to use it, and to benefit from it, and to share it,'” Fisher said. “This is something that we can continue to update, we can add to it, and it will continue to be a resource for Lancaster County families long after our launch.”
The online tool launched on Wednesday, Aug. 18. The virtual resource fair can be viewed at this link.