Thursday, April 23, 2009
Good news for the young: both the city and the county have declared the week of April 27th “Head Start Week” for the region. As well as open houses and fun activities, area parents will take heart in the $1.86 million that the city and county’s Head Start programs are receiving from the federal stimulus package. The two-year funding will go towards the development of the Early Head Start program of the city and county, which educates about 70 children from birth to three years of age annually – a number Head Start hopes to expand with this new money. Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Head Start Blair Hyatt says much of the funding will go towards the professional development of their employees, among other things. “They’re looking at doing a certificate program to improve their ability to work with families and meet families’ needs. That, and they’re looking at how they might provide extra staffing and qualifications, and some people are looking at building issues and how to improve their facilities,” says Hyatt. The 4,000 children involved with city and county Head Start programs also came together to make a mural addressing ways to combat childhood obesity. Susan Buffton, Director of Early Childhood Education Programs for the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center, says the mural will be on display in the lobby of One Smithfield Street downtown. “If kids learn at this age, it makes it more possible that they’re going to end up in the end being healthy adults… I think it will give our attendees a sense of where the kids are coming from and what the programs provide for them.” The mural will remain on display through the month of May.