Almost 30 years ago, a group of parents in North Carolina met to discuss how to convince the schools to provided different learning environments for their deaf and hard of hearing children. Many years later, there are a variety of different programs in NC meeting the individual needs of deaf and hard of hearing children–with spoken language, America Sign Language, cued speech and a combination.
Mary Reaves, Beginnings SC’s co-founder, and I met while working in a local school district. We began working with some students with extreme behavior issues. Often we felt frustrated in our roles at that time-knowing much more needed to be done, but not have the authority or control to make that happen. But we continued to talk and look for solutions.
So we decided to starting identifying what was needed to impact SC children with a hearing loss. We first thought of a charter school, then a preschool. Both of those included opportunities for parent education. Longer story a bit shorter, we found several programs across the nation that did intense education for parents as soon as a child was identified, with excellent success rates for the families involved. The one we found that seemed to meet the needs and deficits in SC was BEGINNINGS, Inc., grown out of that parent group located in North Carolina. BEGINNINGS had comprehensive materials, didn’t cost the family, provided services until the child was 22 years old, and the initial focus was on understanding the cycle of grief that accompanies a diagnosis of any kind. We were hooked.
We received approval to start the first BEGINNINGS’ office outside NC. We talked to many people. We created a Board of Directors and began seeing families. We received our 501c3, making us a legitimate nonprofit. We began seeking funds to support this endeavor. We learned more and more about the needs and knowledge of the people in South Carolina. Our Board of Directors, Mary and I, along with so many others; have worked tirelessly to get to where we are now–being able to do the work of Beginnings SC full-time.
So what does Beginnings SC do? The shortest answer is we provide the answer to the question of “now what?!”–for parents and professionals in SC. Some scenarios are:
- “I have an infant recently diagnosed with a hearing loss. Now what?”
- “My patient/client just found out she has a moderate hearing loss. Now what?”
- “My staff is meeting deaf parents who need to access our services. Now what do we do?”
- “My pediatrician’s office can’t check my child’s hearing until she is 4 or 5. Won’t that be too late? What can I do?”
Beginnings SC has answers to these questions. Beginnings SC is education, guidance, expertise, experience, referrals, trainings and workshops, hearing screenings, Child Care early identification, awareness, collaboration and more. Stay tuned to learn more!