QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Whether you need to know about child care, housing, or how to avoid ticks, Queensbury’s school track field had you covered on Friday morning. The first annual Warren County Interagency Committee (WCIAC) Provider Fair was held on the sunny morning, hosting something for everyone.
Around 60 booths were set up on the track at Queensbury Union Free School District. Behind them were representatives from groups like Warren County Department of Heath Services, Southern Adirondack Independent Living, and Greater Glens Falls Transit, just to name a few. They were all there for the same goal: Educating educators on what they do.
“This is huge for us,” said Molly Dunn, Family Services Director for Habitat for Humanity of Northern Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties. “We’re always part of the community, but being at a fair like this is really integral to what we do.”
On Friday, Dunn was seeking applicants for two homes that her Habitat chapter is building – one in Saratoga Springs, the other in Glens Falls. Last year, the chapter built three homes on Hovey Street in Glens Falls, to house families in need of a new home due to various circumstances. The fair, visited by school teachers and administrations from the region, is designed to help people like Dunn find the families in need of a home like the ones she and her volunteers build.
School officials of all kinds from Warren and Washington counties visited booths like Dunn’s to learn more about the services available to anyone living in the Warren County area. Some of those services are in particularly high demand, as emphasized by Tracy Terry, Warren County Supervisor of Preventative and Child Care Services.
“We’re working closely with our local child care resource and referral agency, trying to promote more child care services in the area,” said Terry. “There’s money they can spend towards family group home daycare, so if somebody wanted to start a business in their home for daycare, there’s grant money to help them get that up and going.”
That money comes from a state grant that the county recently received. Parts of Warren and Washington counties were recently identified as “child care deserts” by the state, which is seeking to give out grants to create more daycare resources.
Daycare is just one resource that Terry’s booth was there to educate on. Her department works with families with a risk of out-of-home displacement. They get referrals from Social Services, school districts, and families themselves who are at risk of home instability, or who just need extra support making it through difficult circumstances.
Friday’s fair was also a way for some organizations to get faces out into the community in ways they hadn’t previously been. Another Warren County organization has spent the two years post-COVID in more public eye than ever before, and events like the fair are helping them to utilize that spotlight.
“One of the very little bright sides there was of COVID is that now people know who we are,” said Warren County Public Health Educator Drew Crawford. “One of our big things right now is showing that we’re way more than just COVID. One of the running jokes we have in Public Health is that nobody knows what we do until it’s not working.”
Towards that end, Crawford was manning a booth with a display board covering topics from tick bites to lead poisoning, with many more in between. Employees like him visit schools and other settings to educate on individual health topics, something that he has been able to return to recently for the first time since the pandemic.
Queensbury Union Free School District’s role in the Services Fair was as more than just a host. The district was part of the multi-year dialogue that led to the fair’s creation. Superintendent Kyle Gannon is part of the Warren County Inter-Agency Group, an organization where school and county officials identify new and better ways to work together.
“And today, we have around 60 vendors here to teach school psychologists, social workers, assistant principals, principals and teacher leaders about the different services in our area,” said Gannon. “This is our first go-around with it. In the future we hope to expand it, giving parents the ability to come down the road.”
Everyone from school resource officers to mental health personnel plays a role. The educators learning more about the services those groups provide will then be able to give students and parents more options if they become aware of a child in distress, or a family in need of help.
Although the focus was largely on educators, students played their own role on Friday, as well. WSWHE BOCES Career and Technical Education students directed traffic and parking as visitors came to take part in the fair. Their fellows in the Culinary Education program provided box lunches.
“We’re bringing all of our students together. They’re from various districts, and they’re here to help today,” said Gannon. “As long as the Inter-Agency Group wants to work with us, we’re happy to host.”