News

May 30, 2008

Providing the Community with Easy Access to Information

Students work with Professor Debbie Byrd to produce child and health care resources for Easton

By Danielle Ward ’08

Students working with Deborah Byrd, associate professor of English, have helped develop two directories meant to serve as childcare and health services resources for the people of Easton and the surrounding areas.

The first publication is a childcare directory of Easton, Pen Argyl, Nazareth, and Bath, done in conjunction with the Nurse Family Partnership, a non-profit that provides mentoring and support to first time, low-income single mothers. The other is a health resources manual for the City of Easton produced for Easton’s Weed and Seed program.

The project began in Byrd’s single motherhood in contemporary America course last fall and was completed with the help of EXCEL scholars Regina Saylor ’08 and Karlyn Adams ’09 (Ford City, Pa.) and Nia Chaney ’08, who worked on the project as an independent study.

The students took part in many aspects of the project. One of the key tasks was collaborating on a survey to gauge which daycare providers could meet the needs of low income single mothers. Byrd explains that in many cases low income single mothers have difficulty finding daycare centers that are not only affordable but also take subsidized housing vouchers, admit infants, employ a Spanish-speaking staff, and are easily accessible through public transportation.

“Some of the questions on the survey were designed for the needs of the low income single mom but the directory can be useful for anyone who is looking for childcare,” says Byrd.

According to Byrd, the publications’ main goal is to provide previously unorganized information to the community in a clearer fashion.

“Easton doesn’t have a health bureau,” she explains. “Information for where you can go to get a free blood pressure test or dental work for you and your child or domestic violence hotline numbers, is out there but it’s not easy to access. We’re putting all the information in one place and organizing it so people will know what number to call or which office or resource is closest to them.”

Byrd stresses the importance of students getting involved with service learning.

“It allows them to test and apply what they learn from traditional readings, exercises, films, and class discussions,” she says. “They are out in the real world interacting with a very heterogeneous population. It helps them to realize how complicated real life problems are and actually learning by doing teaches them a lot.”

The directories are for public use and Byrd anticipates that they will be available at easy-to-access locations such as the Easton Library and Planned Parenthood. She also hopes to publish the information online.

  • Service Learning
  • EXCEL/Undergraduate Research
  • Lafayette’s Growing Exceptional Faculty
  • English

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