By DENISE GRANT
The Hancock County Board of Developmental Disabilities, which oversees Blanchard Valley Center, has earned a three-year state accreditation.
The center serves about 750 Hancock County children and adults with developmental disabilities each year.
This is the first accreditation earned under the leadership of Superintendent Kelli Grisham.
Grisham was hired as assistant superintendent of the center in July 2015, and took over as superintendent in January 2016, following the retirement of former Superintendent Connie Ament.
“I feel blessed to be the leader of an organization with so many dedicated people. I look forward to what the future brings,” Grisham said.
State reviewers praised the center’s leadership, the organization’s overall commitment to improvement, and high expectations.
They also noted the strength of the county’s advocacy program, which helps people with disabilities develop leadership skills and the ability to speak out for themselves.
The state review team spoke with three individuals served by the center about what the board’s services mean to them.
“The board appreciates the efforts of everyone involved in this accreditation. However, this is not an end, but a confirmation that we are headed in the right direction. We will use this experience to continue raising the bar of quality care to those we serve,” said board President Charles Hirschy.
The center’s preschool has also received a “Five-Star Step Up to Quality Award” from the Ohio Department of Education.
All early childhood education and preschool special education programs funded by the state are required to participate in the five-star program.
The programs are required to achieve a rating of three, four or five stars to maintain their state funding. Programs are rated on learning and development, administration and leadership practices, staff qualifications and professional development, and family and community partnerships.
Currently 40 children are enrolled at Blanchard Valley Preschool. They attend either a morning or an afternoon session, Monday through Thursday.
“Blanchard Valley Preschool is proud to be a five-star program,” said Linda Schurch, director of education services. “We offer creative and engaging approaches to learning through exploration and play for children with and without educational disabilities.”
More information about Blanchard Valley Center is available online at www.blanchardvalley.org.