Apply now for Head Start; celebration today

Published 12:01 am Thursday, April 16, 2015

Andre Smith takes time from his snack to pose for a picture. |                Kendra Majors//Star-News

Andre Smith takes time from his snack to pose for a picture. | Kendra Majors//Star-News

While Andalusia’s Head Start is celebrating 14 years, the national program has been around for 50 years.

Denise Davis of the local program said children will celebrate the program’s golden anniversary Thursday with a balloon release and T-shirts.

Davis said the program, which currently has 76 children enrolled, has grown from one class of 20 to several classes.

“We started in 2001, with a class of 20,” she said. “Since the beginning, we have served 250 to 300 children. We started small, but the need was great.”

The preschool program for low income families added a second class in the 2005-2006 school year; a third class in the 2007-2008 school year and in 2010 added two Early Head Start classes.

“We could add more, but we don’t have the space,” she said. “We have a waiting list. We could easily fill another Head Start class and two more Early Head Start classes.”

Davis said the school was able to obtain classes from other sites in the region that were having trouble enrolling students.

“Andalusia had a need, so the Southeast Alabama Regional Planning Commission was able to move those classes here,” she said.

Davis said children are fed breakfast and lunch, as well as a snack, daily.

“We also see to their overall needs,” she said. “From dentists to doctors and if there are needs, we try to help with resources. It’s a whole family program. We encourage our families to get out and seek employment and to become their children’s advocates.”

Academically, the Head Start program is a typical preschool program challenging students to learn letters, numbers, shapes, names, social aspects and more.

“We try to have them ready for kindergarten,” Davis said.

Davis said they are always looking for substitutes and volunteers to work with the children.

“We are always invested in our community,” she said.

The program is currently accepting applications for next school year.

The Head Start program is open for children ages 3 to 5, and the Early Head Start program is for 6 weeks to 3 years.