Head Start seeking children and families

Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Harleigh Welch digs a hole at the Marshall County Head Start site so that she can plant flowers. Welch, 4, was taking part in the centerís Letís Plant Together event, one of their monthly special activities for families and children.
Photo submitted

Marshall County Head Start is looking for children, and families, that want a jump on school and learning.

Beckie Palmer, site manager for the county, said that even though this school year isnít yet over, registrations for next year are in full swing.

The free program is aimed at children aged three and four and is designed to provide educational and social enrichment for children in families that meet federal poverty guidelines, are in foster care, or are homeless.

Head Start is not only for the children, however. The program is designed to offer education and support to the entire family as well.

The message of the program for families is ďdonít ever feel like you ( the family) donít have anyone on your side,Ē said Palmer.

Head Start is a federally funded program administered by the South Central Human Resources Agency.

The SCHRA covers a 13-county area in south central Tennessee and is responsible for social service programs, such as Head Start and Meals on Wheels, among others.

The Marshall County Head Start Center is located within the Carver Heights Apartments at 808 2nd Avenue North in buildings provided by the Lewisburg Housing Authority.

Palmer said that it can be difficult getting word of the program out to the community.

The center has already held an open house to attract interest and although their classes end up full with a waiting list, enrollment was slower here in Marshall County compared to some others in the region.

Marshall County currently has space for 36 children in two classes, each served by a certified teacher and teachers assistant. This year 21 of the children will go, better prepared, on to kindergarten next school year.

Itís not just a Lewisburg program either. Palmer said that the center has students attending from both Chapel Hill and Cornersville as well.

Palmer hopes that at some point the program can expand to serve more children.

SCHRA has applied for grants for Marshall County and two others in the region to add an Early Head Start program as well for children from birth to three years old.

Studies have shown that preschool education has long term impacts on children who participate.

Increases in IQ scores, better overall school achievement and graduation rates, and fewer referrals to special education classes later on are all outcomes supported by research.

Palmer and her staff see some of those benefits themselves as the children work through the year.

ďItís exciting to see how much theyíve grown from the fall to the spring,Ē said Palmer.