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Spots open for special needs, disability students at Head Start

By Carolina Astrain
Aug. 21, 2013 at 3:21 a.m.

The Golden Crescent Head Start program has openings for students with special needs or disabilities.

The federally funded program primarily serves low-income students and families by providing them with free early education services for students 3 to 4 years of age.

If at least 10 percent of Head Start's enrollment isn't made up of special needs or disability students, then the program will have to apply for a waiver to continue operating, said Jana Gossett, Head Start's assistant program director.

That happened last year, Gossett said.

The school is halfway to that goal with 37 more low-income special needs or disabled students needed.

If those spaces aren't filled with low-income students, then above-poverty line income families with special needs or disabled student will take those spots, Gossett said.

"We want to be able to service those families with the most need," Gossett said.

From 2007-11, 13 percent of families were below the poverty line in Victoria County, according to a U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.

Head Start serves 652 students across six counties - Victoria, Calhoun, Lavaca, DeWitt, Gonzales and Jackson.

Rachel Parsons, the program's director, said the organization is looking to rebuild its relationship with the community because the program's funding was briefly suspended in 2010.

Since that time, Head Start has hired a new director and management company, Teaching and Mentoring Communities.

"We want the community to know we are here for them," Parsons said.

In addition to bolstering its recruitment of special needs students, Head Start is working to create a support group for all children with special needs. The goal is to have the first meeting by October, Gossett said.

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