At Diversified Community Services (DCS), an organization that provides after-school programs for at risk youth in Philadelphia, Director of Intensive Prevention Services Carmen Carabella and Director of Early Learning Tynnetta Beyah are bringing new programs to the impoverished communities in Point Breeze.
Thanks to the success of programs such as Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), which helps parents to teach reading to their children before enrolling in school, DCS has recently partnered with Harcum College to allow those seeking a college education to take classes toward an associate’s degree. They can get these degrees in various programs such as early education, human resources, and business management. Because of the recent success of this partnership, they have expanded from having one class to three.
Do you feel that Diversified Community Services has been successful in its mission to help children and their parents in the community?
Beyah: Absolutely. In many ways, we’re an organization that even folks that deliver the same services as us look up to us. We’re kind of the leaders with a lot of our services. I can definitely speak for early childhood education because we’re the only ones in the city doing the whole “two generation” approach to education, which everyone is now looking at but we’re the forerunners in that. We’re connected to the community so we can remain relevant while the communities keep changing.
Carabella: I’ve only been here for two years but for me, it’s an admirable thing to be an organization that is committed to addressing the need of poverty in our community. Poverty is intergenerational and we know that our kids can’t have any real successful outcomes unless we address the full needs of the family. In terms of us achieving our mission, absolutely.
What do your jobs entail?
Carabella: So we service youth, ages 10 to 19, we provide services on site for after-school programming, we also provide services at home and we are also connected to the schools in our area. The greatest need for our kids is emotional and behavioral support, but we also provide academic support.
Beyah: We have early childhood programs, we have after school programs, and we have HIPPY [Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters] which is a home visitation program. Our main focus is that whole two generations approach, which is while we provide quality early childhood education for the children, what are we doing for the families?
Could you tell me more about the programs you are involved with?
Beyah: So our HIPPY program services children ages 3 to 5. That’s when a parent partner goes into the home and uses a literacy based curriculum. They model the curriculum with the parent and then the parent follows it with the child. So we provide all the materials, the books, everything. Say if they’re reading “Where is Spot?” If there are any materials that will enhance the child’s fine motor skills, we leave all those materials with them to do it.
Carabella: We also have several other programs out of our Dixon House where we provide multiple services to the community. It has been a hub for many years where residents and even people from outside the community can come to for support about housing, counseling, energy assistance, a computer lab where residents can use the computers for workshops and classes and promote computer literacy.
With how connected we are to social media, how does Diversified Community Services utilize it to reach out to the community?
Carabella: Social media is imperative in this day and age as it’s become society’s main source of information. When we advertise on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, they immediately gravitate to whatever it is we have to say. Social media users in our area, and even beyond in many cases, know the positive and diligent stance we have on combating poverty in Point Breeze. So the platform is crucial in communicating that message.
Do you have contact with other organizations in Philadelphia to improve the community?
Carabella: We have so many and it really depends on the program. I know for IPS, because our families come with a need for emotional and behavioral supports, we partner with the schools so we can collaborate with the teachers, counselors and social workers so we can make sure there is a continuum of care for the kids. We deal with JFK, crisis response centers, Children’s Crisis Treatment Center, you know organizations that provide family therapy. We’re really well connected as an organization.
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