Head Start beginning 2009-10 sign-ups

Published 11:59 pm Friday, January 30, 2009

To make sure students are armed with more than just the traditional new backpack, clothes and tennis shoes on the first day of kindergarten, the staff at Head Start works to ready students with “ABCs” and “123s.”

Applications are currently being accepted for the upcoming school year.

Krystal Owens, director of Florala’s Head Start program, said there are more than just education benefits available to Head Start students.

“One of the things we concentrate on just as much as the education curriculum is social interaction,” Owens said. “It’s just as important for students to learn how to get along with one another as it is for them to know their colors and shapes.”

The Head Start program, which locally is found in Andalusia, Opp and Florala, is a federally funded child development program providing services to 3-to-5-year-old children of low-income families. Enrollment priority is given to children from families meeting the federal poverty guidelines. Head Start also actively recruits and enrolls children with disabilities.

“In Florala, we have two classrooms, each equipped with a teacher and an aide,” Owens said. “We go by a strict curriculum in our classrooms — students learn the basics like colors, shapes, letters and numbers — all the things they need to know going into kindergarten.

“Students are not divided into individual age groups,” she said. “The earlier they start, the more they benefit. If you have a child who starts at 3, they have two whole years with us. The progress that students make is amazing. It’s just a special experience to see a child come in shy that doesn’t really interact with others and watch them change into an outgoing child who loves to learn.

“To me, that’s the benefit of attending Head Start,” she said.

Classes normally fill quickly, Owens said.

“That’s why it’s important to get your application in early,” she said. “We only have a certain number of spots available.”

Certain items are needed at the time of submitting an application, Owens said. They are:

A certified birth certificate.

Proof of income (taxes).

Medicaid Card and proof of disability (if applicable).

Up-to-date immunization record (Blue Card).

Additionally, parents or a legal guardian is the only person who can make an application for the prospective student.

There is no charge for the program and students attend classes Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Breakfast, lunch and snack are served each day.

For more information, call Florala Head Start at 334-858-3060, Opp Head Start at 334-483-4451 or Andalusia Head Start at 334-881-0181.