New company to manage Head Start, offer job opportunities


June 18, 2012 at 1:18 a.m.
Updated June 19, 2012 at 1:19 a.m.

Crossroads-area children will soon have someone new helping to get them ready for school.

Effective Aug. 1, Teaching & Mentoring Communities will manage Head Start programs in Victoria, Calhoun, DeWitt, Gonzales, Jackson and Lavaca counties, said Mary Capello, TMC's president and CEO.

"I want to tell you that we are very excited," she said at a Monday afternoon news conference. "We are ready."

TMC has offered early childhood education services for more than 40 years, Capello said, and is recognized as a "Super Head Start Grantee," an honor that goes to the nation's top programs.

Based in Laredo, TMC operates in eight states. It manages more than 800 children in its regular program and more than 8,000 students in its Migrant Seasonal Head Start program.

She said the organization hoped to be able to step in within 30 days to get the program ready. It should be open in time for the new school year.

The move means between 106 and 124 new jobs throughout the nine counties the organization serves. Capello said the organization hoped to eventually establish a regional center. Volunteer opportunities will also be available.

The area Head Start faced challenges in August 2010 when financial issues led the federal government to suspend then program operator Advocates for Children and Families.

In the time since, Community Development Institute served as interim management contractor.

Although excited to enter the community, Capello said TMC wasn't looking to reinvent the wheel. Instead, she said, it will work with existing companies and organizations and form further partnerships to keep the program running steadily.

She said TMC is prepared to assist 686 children throughout its six Crossroads counties, but will work to increase that number if the community demonstrates a need.

Early childhood education programs are important, she said, noting that students who enter school without them are seven years behind their counterparts.

"Do you know what that means?" she asked. "That means you will never ever catch up, no matter what. Because you are always catching up and, by the time you get to that level, the others are way ahead."

Victoria Judge Juan Velasquez, a member of TMC's board, said he knew first-hand what it was like to overcome obstacles as a child. He began first grade in Ohio with a limited grasp of English.

"I knew how to ask for water and knew how to ask for the bathroom, and that was enough to get me started," he said. "But it took me several years to finally catch up. And it's hard."

Velasquez said he appreciated TMC's expertise and experience. He said he looked forward to the organization's coming work in the area.

"I know the children are going to be well taken care of," he said.



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