Head Start operator namedPublished 8:25pm Tuesday, July 24, 2012
The Children’s Center will take over Head Start operations in Suffolk and Western Tidewater effective immediately, the center announced Tuesday.
The program had been run for the last year by the Community Development Institute, which ran it on a temporary basis after the Southeastern Tidewater Opportunity Project closed down the operation in February 2011 because of budget issues.
Head Start is a federal program that helps children ages 3 to 5 from economically disadvantaged families develop school readiness skills. Health, nutritional, social and other services also are provided.
The Children’s Center already runs an Early Head Start program for younger children, so also having the Head Start program will make a “nice transition,” spokesman Jeff Zeigler said.
“We are excited and honored to expand our work with families in the Western Tidewater community,” Rosalind Cutchins, program director for the Children’s Center, said in a press release. “We are grateful to the many partners in this community who care deeply for children, who believe in their tremendous potential, and who are willing to work side by side to provide an enriched environment for all children.”
The organization received its official notice of award Monday to run the program through 2017, Zeigler said. It has received a $2.34 million grant for the first year.
The organization will run the Head Start program at the Head Start centers already in place in Suffolk, Smithfield, Courtland and Franklin, Zeigler said. The Suffolk center is on White Marsh Road. It expects to serve about 300 children.
“There is the potential for children to be with us in a natural progression from birth to age five,” Cutchins added. “This gives us the opportunity to build trust with families, partner with them in early childhood education, and empower them to be their child’s best advocate.”
Studies of the Head Start program nationwide have found that children who attend Head Start have higher test scores, need fewer special education services, are less likely to repeat a grade, are up to 25 percent less likely to smoke as an adult, are 12 percent less likely to be charged with a crime and are in better health than their non-Head Start peers.
“Research demonstrates the effectiveness of high-quality, Head Start services,” said Tamie Rittenhouse, Early Head Start director for the Children’s Center. “Our annual community assessment highlights the need for Head Start services in our community.”