URBANA, Ill., (WCIA) — Parents and teachers have a lot to juggle. Between making lesson plans or organizing carpools, it can be hard to catch certain developmental warning signs in kids. Now, there’s a new program to help them.

It’s called “Ready, Set, Connect” and is happening throughout Champaign County.

A home visitor and education expert is paired with a family, and help young kids make sure they’re prepared for school and other activities.

Misty Krippel, a home visitor, and a participant both agree that home visits are important and change lives.

“When the home visitor started with us, my daughter was so shy, not even looking at the home visitor,” Sana Zeshan, one of the home visit participants, said.

But after a few months, her daughter was cuddling, playing and smiling with Krippel, the educator that visited their home regularly.

As a mom, Zeshan said that progress is indescribable. If it wasn’t for Krippel helping out the family, she said she was worried her daughter would’ve been extremely shy.

“It helps in the social and emotional development, of the child,” Zeshan said. “They really get comfortable around other people, and then in these programs, they help you transition your child to preschool.”

She’s participated in home visiting programs the last five years, and is excited to see it expand.

With United Way of Champaign County’s help, the Home Visiting Consortium is starting another one, “Ready, Set, Connect.”

“During these visits, we use this time to play, and have fun, while supporting and scaffolding skills for child development,” Krippel said.

She knows every family is different, and that kids develop at different rates.

Some toys she uses help with gross motor skills, and others with narration and language exposure.

Activities with blocks and bright colors helped Zeshan’s son and daughter when showing signs of delayed speech.

“They were behind because of the dual language factor, but when we received the services and got that help, they were on their appropriate level of age,” she added.

Zeshan wants other parents to know it’s okay if your child is behind in something.

“That’s why it’s early intervention,” she said. “They intervene early to build on those weaknesses and turn them into strengths for their children.”

Now, Zeshan is in a master’s program at the U of I to become a home visitor herself. She wants others to benefit the same way her family did.

All of these programs are free, and screenings with “Ready, Set, Connect” start on April 4.

The first sign-up event is at Soccer Planet in Urbana on the 4th from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. and again from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. The screenings are for kids up to age 5.

For more information and to find more screening events, visit this link.