Head Start expanding to Glenwood Springs | PostIndependent.com

Head Start expanding to Glenwood Springs

Nonprofit Spotlight
Kay Vasilakis
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kay Vasilakis

Western Slope Head Start has received funding from President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Funding will be directed to cost-of-living adjustments and to increase salaries and help retain qualified employees.

Along with those benefits, Western Slope Head Start director Judy Lopez will be searching for a suitable Head Start facility for the Glenwood Springs area this week.

Low-income parents have the opportunity to prepare children for kindergarten. Rocky Mountain SER is now taking applications for the 2009-10 program year. Children ages 3 and 4 may participate in a free 31⁄2-hour preschool held Monday through Thursday, September through May. Call (970) 243-9318 or 1 (800) 659-4970 to apply. Family Service workers will set up an appointment to perform enrollments.

The two criteria for Head Start are age and income. Children must be 3 years old before Oct. 1 in Carbondale; Aug. 15 in Parachute; and Oct. 1 in Rifle.

For a family to be eligible, all members must be within the poverty level. Head Start also accepts children with disabilities, and 10 percent of students may be over income. Also, family circumstances and other factors may be considered to allow a child into the program.

A Head Start bilingual preschool program standard provides activities for 4-year-olds to develop social skills, which include being ready to sit and listen, follow directions and take turns, and social interaction. Academic activities include learning and recognizing the child’s name, counting, and learning the alphabet.

The children in the program have access to developmental screening, regular assessments of children on their skill level. By performing these assessments, Head Start is aware of the areas the children need to work on to increase their skills, and informs the parents on which skills need work. The teachers have an idea of what the individual schools require. Trained teachers and assistants are sensitive to each child’s needs and level of maturity and growth. The staff nurtures the social and emotional growth of young children by building language and thinking skills.

Head Start also focuses on health and nutrition. Assessments are conducted in these areas with all children. By requiring all children to receive a physical, the facility is confident the children are healthy and ready to learn. If a child has a medical condition, it can be addressed. Head Start also ensures children receive a healthy meal that meets the USDA daily requirements.

“Another component of Head Start is our family and community partnerships,” said Lopez. “With the families, we partner with them and get parent involvement in the program. And with communities, we have partnerships with school districts, health departments and other human service agencies.”

“It’s very important to support Head Start to get kids ready for school and help families,” Lopez continued. “It’s been proven, and it does work. Head Start has been around nationally since 1965. I encourage families to call Head Start to help give their children whatever they need.”

Kay Vasilakis’ “Nonprofit Spotlight” column appears every other week in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. She is a member of the Garfield County Human Services Commission. To contact her with a local nonprofit news tip, call 618-6689 or e-mail kayvasilakis@yahoo.com.

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