Kids can get an early start at Head Start

A child plays with a toy that teaches colors, shapes and counting at the Lisbon Head Start facility. The Head Start program, operated under the Community Action Agency of Columbiana County, has received a $5.9 million grant to continue operations at the eight sites in Columbiana County and three in Jefferson County. It also was announced an Early Head Start program will be offered this fall in both counties. (Submitted photo)

LISBON — It’s good news all around for the Head Start program operated under the Community Action Agency of Columbiana County.

Recently the agency learned it received a $5.9 million grant to aid in offering continuing Head Start services to children in Columbiana and Jefferson counties. The news was followed by the announcement of an initial Early Head Start program to begin this fall in both counties.

“The CAA of CC was chosen through the Designation Renewal System to continue to be the grantee and service provider for all of Columbiana and Jefferson counties,” said Christine Malloy, Head Start director. “Not only will our agency continue to provide Head Start to the community, but for the first time in history, our counties will also have an Early Head Start program. Additionally, we were able to increase our funding to allow us to provide full-day services to all center-based students.”

Beginning this fall, children ages 3 months to 3 years old can take part in the Early Head Start program at the East Liverpool site at 810 W. Eighth St. in Columbiana County and at the St. Anthony’s site at 243 S. Seventh St. in Steubenville in Jefferson County.

The other Head Start programs, for ages 3-5, in Columbiana County are in East Palestine, 195 W. Grant St.; Glenmoor, 46635 Y and O Road; Lisbon, 7878 Lincole Place; Salineville, 110 E. Main St.; Salem, 1712 S. Lincoln Ave.; United, 8143 state Route 9, Hanoverton; and Wellsville, 929 Center St.

In Jefferson County, the Head Start sites are located at 106 Grandview Ave., Tiltonsville, and at East Garfield Elementary School, north Fifth Street in Steubenville, operated in partnership with Steubenville City Schools.

Malloy said home-based Early Head Start also will be offered in both counties.

The CAA of CC has overseen the Head Start program in Jefferson County since 2014.

According to Tom Andrews, CEO of CAA of CC, the CAA’s Head Start sites were the first to be five-star-rated child care centers in Jefferson and Columbiana counties.

That rating system is labeled Step Up To Quality and is a five-star quality rating and improvement process administered by the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. In 2018, the CAA’s Head Start achieved a five-star Step-Up-To-Quality rating at 100 percent of its centers.

“This agency worked diligently … It brings a higher level of services to those children served,” Andrews said.

SUTQ recognizes and promotes early learning and child development programs that meet quality program standards and exceed licensing health and safety regulations.

The CAA of CC has been providing Head Start services to children since 1965. It began as an eight-week summer program back then, serving 135 children at nine sites in Columbiana County. But in 1970, it expanded to a school year, half-day program in Columbiana County. Today, the Head Start program is serving 552 children in a combination of part-day and full-day classes in both counties.

“Head Start is a program that not only focuses on children’s academics, but prepares them for school by encompassing the whole child,” Malloy said. “A child’s parent is his or her primary and lifelong educator. Parent involvement and community engagement are a pivotal part of the Head Start and Early Head Start programs. We are excited to be able to continue to provide these services to the children and families of Columbiana and Jefferson counties and to introduce Early Head Start to the area.”

“There are so many people to thank for their time, commitment, creativity and passion for Head Start … We all can take part in this celebration because as the CAA family, it just demonstrates once again the quality and comprehensive services we provide. We are nothing without dedicated staff that are compassionate, caring and empathetic for the children, families and individuals we serve,” Andrews said.

The goal of Head Start is to prepare children for kindergarten. Children enrolled in the program are from households with incomes at or below the federal poverty level, but some children may come from households whose incomes are above the federal poverty guidelines if certain circumstances exist, officials said.

Malloy also noted the awarding of the grant would not have been possible without the dedication of all employees in varying capacities.

“Thank you very much to all those worked so hard to ensure that we continue to be the agency to serve the children and families of Columbiana and Jefferson counties. It is that child, that family, that employee, that program … that difference that you made in the world. One day soon enough, these little children in our care will be parents, teachers, leaders in the community,” she said. “Smile, celebrate, spread the word … we are Head Start and Early Head Start, and we are here to stay.”

To register for the fall Head Start and Early Head Start programs in both counties, go online at www.caaofcc.org/headstart, or call (330) 424-6693 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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