Head Start center begins outreach program

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

March 28, 2013 at 9 p.m.
Updated March 27, 2013 at 10:28 p.m.

Dot Falcon

Dot Falcon

Head Start, a federally-funded education center that provides early education for low-income students, services six counties in the Crossroads.

Organizers are hoping qualifying students register early because of the reduced number of space available for students next year.

Brandy Johnson, 32, of Victoria, enrolled her stepdaughter into the program in 2011.

"I was surprised about how helpful and the wide range of topics they were able to get us in touch with," said Johnson, the president of the center's parent policy council. "I'm a stay-at-home mom right now, and I volunteer every week."

Several local business are teaming up with Head Start to host an application roundup tour throughout the Crossroads to inform parents about the services the agency can coordinate.

"Some of the public views us as a day care center and that's not what we do," Parsons said. "We see the gains and values the children get from the program, and we know the only way out of poverty is education."

The Victoria Health Department, Red Cross, Food Bank of the Golden Crescent, Driscoll Health and the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitation Services are among the 16 community partners the agency has teamed up with for the string of events.

"Dental is the service that has been the highest in demand," said health manager Dot Falcon. "And that's across the nation, not just here."

The 2013 sequestration cuts are expected to take 5.1 percent out of their funding, said Rachel Parsons, Teaching and Mentoring Communities Golden Crescent Head Start program director.

TMC Golden Crescent's 2013-14 proposed operating budget is about $4.2 million.

The program provides family resources, including dental and vision work, as well as an early pre-kindergarten education for students as young as 3 years old.

Items parents will need to provide to see whether they qualify include an updated immunization record, a copy of the child's birth certificate and proof of address and income.

A total of 687 students have been enrolled in the TMC Golden Crescent Head Start program during the past 10 years, Falcon said.

The center is expecting to eliminate 19 or 20 positions for students next year, but no cuts will be made to staff, Parsons said.

"Our main goal for this event is so we don't inundate the centers at the last minute," Parsons said. "We're not looking at cutting staff because we don't want to make sure the students are taught adequately."



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