• 63°

Andalusia Head Start expands program

There was quite a feeling of excitement Tuesday inside Andalusia Head Start as director Denise Davis shared the news the program would be expanding to include an “early” head start program.

“What that means is, that with this program, we will have two more classrooms in our building filled, and we’ll be able to service families from being expectant parents up to the child’s third birthday, and then our traditional Head Start program picks up from age 3 to 5,” Davis said. “It’s a very exciting time.”

Early head start was launched nationwide in 1995 or provide comprehensive child and family development services for low-income pregnant women and families with infants and toddlers from age birth to 3.

The program was able to make its way to Andalusia thanks to funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

The site, which is one of three Head Starts in the county, was one of two chosen in southeast Alabama by Head Start’s governing agency, the Southeast Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission (SEARP&DC). Headland will play host to the other center, Davis said.

“Our goal is to nurture healthy attachments between the parent and child, emphasize a strengths-based, relationship-centered approach to services and to encompass the full range of a family’s need from pregnancy through the child’s third birthday,” she said.

“We want to be able to identify atypical development at the earliest stage possible and give parents every resource they need to have a healthy and happy child.

“Simply put, we’re going to follow that child from making sure they get their physicals and shots to having all the skills they need to make it in kindergarten,” she said.

Two new staff members will oversee 16 clients, and the year-around program will be in place by the summer, Davis said. “So that means we need applicants now,” she said. “This is a free program, but there are qualifications one must meet for enrollment.”

Enrollment is a based on a point system and is not determined on income alone. Criteria also includes parental status of the family, disability status of the child, age and other contributors such as high social needs and those experiencing a family crisis.

“So we tell people, just apply,” Davis said.

“We let the computer rate the applications.”

“Recruitment” as it’s called is also ongoing for the 3-to-5-age bracket program, which follows the school calendar year.

Along with an application, parents must submit a certified birth certificate, proof of income for 2009, Medicaid cards and proof of disability (if applicable) and an up-to-date immunization card.

For more information, call 334-881-0181.