FULTON, NY – Parents throughout Oswego County are discovering the benefits afforded children participating in Oswego County Opportunities’ Head Start Pre-K Program.
The Head Start Pre-K Program, which runs throughout the school year, serves children from each of Oswego County’s nine school districts and provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to children and their families.
Since 1992 more than 5,950 children have been students of the Head Start Pre-K program in Oswego County and have reaped the many benefits the program offers.
Reliable studies have found positive long-term effects with lower rates of grade repetition and special education placement, as well as increased high school graduation rates for Head Start graduates.
In addition, Head Start children are significantly more likely to attend college than their peers who did not attend Head Start.
According to Catherine Crocker, family services coordinator with OCO’s Head Start Pre-K, the goal of Head Start is school readiness.
“This is accomplished by following the NYS Pre-K Learning Standards and utilizing a research based curriculum that includes hands-on learning experiences, well designed lesson plans, active play, and nutritious meals and snacks,”explained Crocker. “We also recognize that parents are a child’s first and primary teacher. Parents are engaged in all areas of their children’s education. Through volunteering, being involved with parent committees, policy groups, and attending education workshops, parents are engaged in their children’s education. Additionally we act as advocates for our Head Start families and provide them with information regarding other services that may be helpful.”
For one parent, the advocacy provided through Head Start brought remarkable results.
“The staff at Head Start did a fantastic job helping me get my children the speech therapy they needed. When my children began Head Start they did not speak well, write their names or interact with other students,” they said. “Now, two years later they are able to speak with confidence, write, read books, and play well with their peers. Head Start teachers and staff are there to help with any problems I or my children may have.”
Crocker added that children in OCO’s Head Start Pre-K Program enjoy a wide variety of activities that encourage learning particularly in the areas of literacy, math, and science. “Each Head Start Pre-K classroom has a teacher, all of which have either a master’s degree or bachelor’s degree in education, a teaching assistant, and a classroom aide to provide a small teacher-child ratio. Family advocates and a nurse are also on staff to work closely with parents providing them with information, support, and other services.”
Several Head Start parents have said that Head Start offers their children the advantage to be competitive in school, how to work together as a team and the importance of responsibility.
Parents also appreciate the opportunity afforded them to come together as a community and volunteer to assist the program.
“Head Start is not just for the children, it’s for the local community,” said one parent.
OCO is currently accepting Head Start Pre-K enrollment applications for the 2015-2016 school year for all of its eight locations, many of which offer multiple sessions.
Applicants must bring their child’s Birth Certificate or Medicaid Cards and proof of 2014 income.
Application dates and times are as follows:
Fulton Municipal Building, South First Street – April 9 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Mexico, Cornell Cooperative Extension, 3288 Main St. – April 9 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Cleveland, St. Mary’s Church, 488 State Route 49 – April 7 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Phoenix Head Start, (Industrial Park), 80 County Route 59 – April 8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Williamstown, Britton Community Center, 2910 A County Route – April 8 from – 9 a.m. 3 p.m.
Oswego Head Start, Building 31, Fort Ontario – April 9 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Head Start Pre-K enrolls 3- and 4 year –old children and is provided at no cost to families.
Families with incomes at or below federally set guidelines are eligible to apply.
Those interested in learning more about Head Start, or applying for enrollment, may call (315) 598-7689 or (315) 598-4711 to schedule an application time.
Waiting lists are maintained for openings that may occur throughout the school year.
A private, non-profit agency, OCO’s many programs touch the lives of more than 24,000 Oswego County residents each year.
One of Oswego County’s largest employers, OCO employs more than 550 people and boasts a volunteer force of 1,200.
OCO strives to improve the quality of life in Oswego County by helping people, supporting communities and changing lives.
For more information, visit OCO’s website at www.oco.org