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Head Start adds ‘early’ program

Lincoln Hills Development Corp. has implemented a new program called Early Head Start that will operate in Crawford, Harrison, Spencer and Perry counties.
The program, which was funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and started early this year, will serve 72 families in the four counties and will focus on infants, toddlers and pregnant women. The new program differs from the current Head Start program in that the Head Start program serves children ages 3 to 5 years old and the new Early Head Start program concentrates on the younger age group.
Services will be provided mostly through a home-based program, but some program and group socialization activities will occur in LHDC center facilities.
‘To be eligible for this new program, the children must be under 3 years old,’ said Kim Madden, socialization and recruitment manager for the new program in Harrison and Crawford counties. ‘Our home educators go to the homes and spend 1-1/2 hours a week working with the children and screening for potential education problems. This allows us to work with them early to be sure they are on target when it comes time for them to attend regular Head Start and preschool programs.
‘The home visits occur once a week, and we have our socialization activities here at the centers twice a month. This allows the children to interact with other kids and the parents to interact, as well. We provide snacks and encourage the children to play and adjust to a school-like setting. We are sometimes confused with regular Head Start, but we serve the younger children who aren’t yet old enough for regular Head Start.’
The program focuses on children and families living at or below the federal poverty level, as well as children with disabilities.
‘We are tremendously excited by the new program,’ said Larry Kleeman, executive director of LHDC. ‘Research proves that Head Start programs provide cost-effective services that save future expenditures many times over. We are grateful for the HHS’s generous support.’
According to the Children’s Defense Fund, numerous studies confirm that Head Start is effective. They find that children who have graduated from Head Start are:
‘Less likely to repeat a grade in school.
‘Less likely to need special education services.
‘More likely to graduate from high school.
‘The activities here are designed to meet each child’s needs,’ said Sandy Parr, a home educator in the Crawford County program. ‘It’s actually learning through play. When we go into a home, we focus on what goals or skills the parents want to accomplish, like talking or other skills. Early development sets a child up for a better future and to be more well-rounded.’
At a recent socialization day at the Crawford County LHDC Center, nurse Susan Greenwell gave parents information about flu shots and the upcoming flu season. She explained what the flu is, how it spreads, its symptoms and even how it affects parents when a child has the flu.
‘This program was made possible through the awarding of federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (stimulus) funds,’ Kleeman said. ‘Not only do these funds allow for the implementation of new Head Start program services to families, they also enable the creation of 13 new employment positions. In these tough economic times and particularly with the current high unemployment rates, that is a significant additional benefit of the program’s approval.’
Jan Sprinkle is the program’s director.
The program is limited to 18 families per county, and there is a waiting list maintained to keep the program full.
‘But we have children turning 3 quite often and others leaving the program, so we have openings on a regular basis,’ Madden said. ‘We encourage parents to call, get on the list and we will contact them as soon as a spot becomes available.’
To apply for an opening or to be placed on the list, call Madden at 1-812-719-8584 or toll-free at 1-888-547-4850.

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