reading program incorporates
the popularity of Harry Potter.
As the youngest child of seven, Dr.
Daniel Perkins learned the lessons of
family life early on. "I experienced
family in such a great way and always
really enjoyed being around people,"
Those formative experiences led Perkins
to his work with children, youth and
families. Now at Penn State as an associate
professor of agricultural and extension
education and a Cooperative Extension
faculty member, Perkins' work, along
with that of Penn State Cooperative
Extension professors Dr. James E.Van
Horn and Dr. Matthew Kaplan, is aimed
at strengthening family bonds throughout
Pennsylvania and the nation.
Take, for example, a recent project
of Perkins' called Putting Youth Back
in Sports. Designed with faculty from
South Dakota State University, this
curriculum for those involved in youth
sports enhances the developmental outcomes
of the children as well as their interaction
with parents and coaches. Another program
of Perkins' is Reading Wizards, which
incorporates the popularity of Harry
Potter to engage both parents and children.
It is currently in use in 40 counties
throughout Pennsylvania in cooperation
with local libraries.
Perkins' latest project focuses on the
high-tech: he is currently piloting
a program to give youth in Pennsylvania's
most rural areas an opportunity to gain
experience in such technologies as robotics
and Web site development.
Van Horn's Better Kid Care program,
monthly satellite training workshops
for providers, currently reaches up
to 1,500 providers in Pennsylvania,
more than 100,000 professionals throughout
the nation and countless others in Western
Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
"Basic research has demonstrated,
again and again, that the more training
providers get, the better the care they
will provide," said Van Horn. What's
more, "the research showed us that
if parents worried about their children's
welfare while working, their productivity
It's not just parents worried about
their child's welfare. With 80,000-plus
grandparent-headed households in Pennsylvania,
Kaplan found a need to create programming
that would provide increased support
for grandparents--as well as other relatives--raising
Due to factors such as the growing prevalence
of drug and alcohol abuse and divorce,
explained Kaplan, grandparents are increasingly
being called upon to raise their grandchildren.
Kaplan worked with the Pennsylvania
Department of Aging and the AARP's Pennsylvania
state office to create Grandparents
Raising Grandchildren, a database of
resources for financial assistance,
support groups, legal rights and much
Kaplan's other projects have helped
older adults become more involved in
their communities and have improved
family care of aging and disabled persons.
Dr. Marilyn Corbin, associate director
of Cooperative Extension and state program
leader for Children, Youth and Families,
summed it up this way: "We offer
pathways for individuals and families
to gain basic skills and competencies
... and to manage and improve their