Saturday, April 13, 2024
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UC Head Start Set To Apply For Early Head Start Program

LBJ&C Head Start Director Penny Meadows said she hopes to lower age requirements for Head Start in the next year.

Meadows said a nationwide competition will open this fall. Meadows said she expects the competition will be fierce. She said she believes the region will get early Head Start in the Upper Cumberland because of the great need for it.

“I will tell you every single area needs, needs that kind of help,” Meadows said. “I feel like it’s needed on a smaller scale in smaller counties, but at the last number we looked at, there are over 2,000 children that could possibly qualify for early head start.”

Meadows said Head Start allows educators to meet the child where they are and get them ready for grade school. She said Early Head Start could really benefit children with special needs, as they can get them in the programs they need earlier.

“Child care is very expensive,” Meadows said. “If you qualify for head start it’s free. That in itself is going to help the families, because they’re going to get educational child care. Not just a baby sitter.”

Meadows said if they get the green light to expand Head Start to younger children, staffing will be a concern. The organization will need to hire more people to handle the influx of younger head start children.

“We have great benefits, but you know, I’ve heard people say benefits are great but that doesn’t feed my family, so you know we’ve really been working hard to get our wages up hire,” Meadows said. “The inflation is happening more quickly than we’re getting federal dollars. I feel like we’ve made a lot of increases in the last five years, and I just want us to keep doing that so that this is the place people want to go to.”

Meadows said the “neediest of the needy” will get priority just like the Head Start program now. She said then they can serve a percentage of those that fall within the poverty guidelines. She said head start can serve 10 percent of those at over income, but she tries to keep it on the side of income eligibility.

Meadows said she encourages everyone with a child three to four years old to apply for Head Start.

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