Imagine growing up feeling lost, that’s how many children in the foster care system feel every day. That’s where Merced County’s Early Connection program comes in.

Each week in partnership with the Merced County Office of Education we highlight North Valley leaders and programs specializing in early childhood education. 

For kids in foster care real life experiences can feel like nightmares. 

“Provide developmental screenings for all children from kids 0-5 especially if they have a CPS report or if they’re referred by a social worker,” said child development specialist Non Chang. 

Rosie Martinez and Nou Chang have very unique roles with the Merced County Office of Education. They make sure these young boys and girls are on the right track.

“We get to experience children experiencing a lot of trauma. Just being taken away from your parent is a traumatic thing and just the adversities they had before they removed and the reason for them being removed as well as the ones with their parent it’s just a traumatic experience the children have,” said child development specialist Rosie Martinez.

“We are helping children those children in the foster care system to have that advantage or have that chance to meet their full potential,” stated Chang. “With our developmental screening tools we are able to identify if there are any needs or any counseling services for their social and emotional example…if they are having challenging behaviors in the homes we can connect to services. 

Healthy habits begins in the home and from birth.

“You already know those children have risk, so it’s our job to see if those children are developmentally on target,” said Chang. 

The early connections program and these child development specialists also help train social workers who first work with young children in the foster care system.