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Children gain from war on poverty

Dave Cochrane

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. This huge national effort, conceived in the Kennedy Administration and implemented in 1964 by President Johnson, created a safety net for millions of Americans. Communities have received grants to assist in a variety of social and economic needs that include employment, energy assistance, youth programs, senior citizen programs, and for the nation’s children, the Head Start Program.

Head Start has been one of the greatest successes of the War on Poverty. The program has served 39 million children since it began in 1965. Head Start has always been a comprehensive program in that it attempts to meet children’s emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs.

Family Forum Inc. has been the grantee for Head Start and Early Head Start in the five Northern counties of Wisconsin including Ashland, Bayfield , Douglas, Iron and Price since 1980 and serves 600 children each year in classrooms and home based settings. The staff at Head Start and Early Head Start is highly qualified for their positions and receives ongoing training to stay on the cutting edge of child development knowledge and practices.

School Readiness goals have significantly increased for the Head Start Program over time. The program uses outcome data derived from children’s progress in eleven domains of learning to drive the activities in the classroom and the individual growth of each child. The Head Start teacher and parent work together as a team to help the child get ready for school. Head Start works with most community agencies to mobilize resources for the benefit of the enrolled child and their family.

Head Start serves three and four year old children in a classroom setting. Children attend five days a week, four hours a day during the typical school year. Children are bussed back and forth from their home to school in school buses that have a five-point harness seat belt system. Each child receives a snack and full meal during the school day. In the Head Start and Early Head Start serving prenatal women and children to age 5, a home visitor visits the home each week and children are brought together twice a month for group socializations.

A typical comment by a current Head Start parent states that “I am so thankful that my child had you as teachers this year … I really appreciate everything you guys have done for my child.”

This year Head Start will be having a spring Jubilee event to celebrate the Week of the Young Child. The event in Superior will be held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 11 at Center No. 1, 1500 N. 34 St and Center No. 2, 518 Grand Ave.

We hope to make it an exciting time for young children by having games and activities at each center, a lunch and door prizes. This is the time for potential new families to view the classrooms, center and bus and to complete an application for the program.

At Family Forum Head Start and Early Head Start we believe that strong families create strong children, who empower strong communities that will change the world.

Dave Cochrane is executive director of Family Forum.