Early Head Start under wayCommunity Action Partnership is accepting applications for enrollment in the Early Head Start program that is under way in southwestern North Dakota.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
Community Action Partnership is accepting applications for enrollment in the Early Head Start program that is under way in southwestern North Dakota.
Early Head Start is a federally funded community-based program for low-income families with infants and toddlers and pregnant women. Its goal is to promote prenatal care for pregnant women, to enhance development of children from ages 0-3, and to promote healthy family relationships, according to a press release.
“We’re accepting applications and in the process of doing intakes to determine families who qualify,” said Early Head Start Education Coordinator Candy Kalil. “We’ve had referrals from other agencies or from individuals.”
The process is ongoing and families started to receive services June 1, she said.
“Even after we’re full, we’ll still take applications — people leave the area, people drop out of the program, or children become too old for the program,” said Kalil.
CAP was awarded a $1.17 million federal grant to start the Early Head Start program to benefit 72 infants, toddlers and pregnant women in Adams, Billings, Bowman, Dunn, Golden Valley, Hettinger, Slope and Stark counties.
“We don’t have a center facility yet, We’ll use the home visitor model where we have trained home visitors visiting homes once a week,” said Kalil.
These visitors will provide parents with education and resources to enhance their young children’s development. At least twice a month, families will have an opportunity to meet in a centralized location. CAP also will partner with interested child care providers to promote care for infants and toddlers enrolled in Early Head Start, she added.
“Within a year, Community Action Partnership will provide a center for infant and toddler education in Dickinson,” said Kalil. “This center will provide care only for working families or parents who are enrolled in training or in school.”
The Early Head Start concept is the result of research.
“What they have found over the last several years is the amount of brain development that happens before children reach their third birthday is astronomical,” she said. “Their language skills, their communication skills, their ability to interact with other people is all based on what life was like that first three years.”
The Early Childhood concept focuses on the family.
“We’re not just supporting the children. We’re supporting the parents to raise their own children,” she said. “Parents are the first teachers.”
Heather Eckert, Dickinson, recently completed the intake registration for son, Gradie, with home visitor Stacey Kovash.
Eckert and her husband, Todd, are the parents of four children, Gradie, 2; Elsie, 4; Sophie, 5 and Brodie, 7.
Their older children received a Head Start experience in the Early Childhood Center in south Dickinson.
“I’m on the Policy Council for Head Start, so I’ve been there from the beginning to get the grant and see the program come through,” said Eckert.
“The minute I heard about it, I thought what an awesome program to get little ones into and be able to see from the ground up how it’s going to go,” she added.
As a stay-at-home mom, Eckert has observed the growth in development of her children while they participate in Head Start.
“Elsie has grown by leaps and bounds — the songs she’s learned, the numbers,” she said.
“People will come into my house to teach me as a parent — that’s the whole idea — to teach parents how to take care of their kids,” Eckert added.
Persons interested in the Early Head Start program may call the CAP office at 701-227-3010.