Early Head Start Students

These students met their teacher and saw their classroom at Early Head Start in Albertville. They are, from left,  Leilani Hargrove, Addie Dunn, Aribella Stanford, Journie Davis, Khloe Dunn and Arissa Dunn.

Early Head Start in Albertville kicked off with a health fair/orientation enrollment so parents would have a chance to meet with their children's teachers and have some information on organizations in and around Marshall County that could be of service to their families. 

Early Head Start is a part of Community Action Partnership of North Alabama which serves pregnant women, infants and toddlers up to the age of 3. The program is income-based.

In a 2019 head start profile, the numbers show that only 31 percent of eligible children ages three to five are funded in the United States. Only 7 percent are funded for the early head start slots. 

Family engagement specialist JoAnn Pearson said that the health fair/orientation is a great way for the parents and students to meet the teacher along with having access to some non-profit organizations that could provide some assistance to the families. 

The children had a health screening preformed at the school's location. They had their weight and height checked along with vision. 

This group has been working with Marshall County for six years and is now in their new location. They have been in this location for a little while, but this is the first official full school year that the students will be in this building. 

The school is invested in families and the children. It does not just focus on the child. It focuses on the family unit, Pearson said. They have many programs that help with family needs. 

It also helps expose the students to the school environment and gets the child ready for learning in a classroom. It mocks a classroom setting which allows the student to have a better understanding when they enter a classroom. 

This is the first year of year-round school the new campus has and Pearson is excited about the new year. She enjoys being able to help anyone and speaks several languages which helps her communicate with multiple people. 

She is happy to serve and said it brings her joy to see the children thriving in school and their home environments. 

Children's services classroom specialist Letha Cannon of Community Action said that although there are schools in and around Marshall County offering pre-k programs, their program is for children birth to five-years of age along with pregnant mothers. 

The Community Action Partnership of North Alabama has expanded service areas in 14 counties which includes Marshall. They offer affordable housing, children services, financial capabilities, homeownership services, weatherization and disaster rehab. It was established in 1965.

They provide books, education and other needs for pregnant mothers. Once the mother is a part of Community Action, the mother is a part of their roster. Once the mother is ready for the child to attend school, which is typically about six weeks, the child replaces the mother on the roster and is enrolled in the classroom. 

The campus wants to build a relationship with the mother. The want the mother to know that her child is in a safe, loving environment and they even has a room available for breast feeding. This is a positive because it is not cramped and allows the mother to feed her child. 

The school focuses on children with disabilities and provides assistance such as a speech therapist to help in the child's development. 

Cannon said with the hours of operation, this allows a mother to be able to take on a part-time job or take some classes in college or earn their GED.

The school helps families with budgets, setting goals throughout the year, discipline for the children and other matters that the family may have. They work on the whole family and they do not just focus on the child, Cannon said. 

Head Start follows a curriculum based education program. It is designed for children from at-risk back grounds. They have an application process and use that as a point system to determine who is eligible. Some of the children are considered categorically eligible based on factors such as homelessness or diagnosis of a disability. 

All children are eligible to apply and the programs do have active waitlists. They accept applications year-round. They are only allowed a certain number of students per classroom which is mandated by the federal government. 

Having a daycare license, they are only allowed a certain amount of student. The preschool classrooms cannot exceed 18 children with two teachers teaching the class. 

These students have major advantages, Pearson said. They will know what is expected of them in a kindergarten classroom. The preschool classes are taught similar to those of a kindergarten classroom and being around that environment will help these students to thrive in a future classroom setting. 

Those in attendance for the health fair where Crisis Services, Garrett Counseling, Shepard's Cove, USDA Rural Development, AL Head Injury Foundation, CAPCAN, Habitat for Humanity, Domestic Violence Crisis Services, UPC Huntsville, Childcare Enhance, Children's Rehab Services, Workforce Development Snead State Community College, Vocational Rehab Services, Kids and Kin Program, and United Way 211. 

The school is a year round school except for two weeks out of the year. It starts in July and ends in June. The hours are 7:45 a.m. until 1:45 p.m. There is no transportation. It is located right across from what use to be Mega Skate. The address is 908 Cooley Street, Albertville. 

For more information contact them at 256-891-3423. 

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