2019-05-15 / Front Page

Head Start Prepares Hundreds Of Children For Kindergarten

By Rosie Cunningham

HAMDEN - The Head Start Program makes sure children are ready for kindergarten.

Head Start assists in the transition to school by meeting with the children’s families, and provides backpacks and supplies that the schools either expect or require the children to have to be ready for the first day of school.

“The assistance that is received from individuals, businesses and communities helps the Head Start program offset costs of supporting the families so that they are not financially compromised in the acquisition of the backpacks and supplies their children need to enter school,” said Head Start Children’s Services Manager Chelsea Johnson.

“The Head Start program assists the children and families in preparation for school by providing activities in the classroom, going on field trips and inviting key staff from the schools to visit the Head Start children to share what is expected when they enter kindergarten.”

Johnson said individuals can assist and donate in a variety of ways.

“Supplies and materials could be purchased and delivered directly to our Delaware Opportunities office and we will put the items together to be given out to the lead teachers when the backpack and supplies are complete,” said Johnson.

“Typically, the lead teachers meet with parents and children in August prior to the children entering school.”

Johnson said there are approximately 125 children that transition into kindergarten annually.

“We typically try to get backpacks that get the children excited about starting school,” she said.

In 1965, the federal government initiated the Head Start program as a comprehensive child and family development program. The tenet was to promote positive school readiness coupled with parent involvement preparing the children and families to enter the school system with knowledge and experiences in social services, health, nutrition, support in the area of referrals for the children with disabilities and to provide both the children and families with the resources and skills necessary to transition.

The Delaware Opportunities Head Start program began in 1966 with a small, six-week summer program. It has grown substantially and continues to expand in response to the needs of families and children throughout Delaware County.

“We currently serve 203 children and their families,” said Johnson.

Delaware Opportunities has been transitioning families with backpacks and supplies for approximately 20 years.

“We typically write to businesses and church congregations in the communities where centers are located, which is Arkville, Davenport, Delhi, Deposit, Fishs Eddy, Franklin, Grand Gorge, Sidney and Walton,” said Johnson. “Last year, we received some donations from the businesses and communities; however, not enough to purchase all we needed. We feel very strongly about assisting families with the financial burden that school supplies could cost; therefore we always make sure that we can assist in supplying the materials needed. Typically, monies are used to purchase backpacks from either a store or online and the supplies that we put in the backpacks are purchased through our school supply vendors.”

To donate by check, write in the amount of the donation sent to Delaware Opportunities Inc., the Head Start Program, so the fiscal department knows that the monies are specifically for transition supplies.

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