What is Head Start and NCPK?
Head Start is a federally funded program whose goal is to prepare children ages 3-5 for school by providing a quality, safe-learning environment within a structured educational setting. Head Start is the only local preschool program that offers health, dental, social services and a comprehensive parent involvement program. Services are provided in Davie, Stokes, Surry, and Yadkin Counties to 385 children and include nutritious meals and snacks and developmentally appropriate activities. Medical and dental services are provided (including payment, if needed, for healthcare, dental exams and follow-up). Parents have the opportunity to partner with teachers to develop their child’s plans for learning, develop and revise program policies, and approve staff hiring and firing decisions. Inclusion of children with special needs, professional staff, referral services and literacy are also provided. Head Start operates in conjunction with the local school system calendar. Families must meet Federal income guidelines to qualify.
Head Start partners with the state NCPK Pre-Kindergarten program. The additional funding that NCPK provides has enabled Head Start to lower child/staff ratios resulting in 5 Star center licenses, extend our service year by one month, and pay for higher qualified teachers, a proven indicator in helping children enter school ready to learn. 13 of our 22 Head Start classrooms are also NCPK sites with funding for 164 four-year old child slots.
Our Mission Statement
The Yadkin Valley Head Start program will continuously establish and evaluate program practices that will bring about the greatest success for children and families.
Yadkin Valley Head Start believes that all children deserve the opportunity to learn through play by way of facilitated, competent early childhood practices without regard to race, culture, income, or disability. We also believe by linking services and building partnerships within the community our families will achieve more success.
YVEDDI Head Start History
The Head Start program began in 1965 as a six week summer program operated by the Mount Airy City Schools. In 1966, the Summer Program was transferred to the Yadkin Valley Economic Development District, Inc. (YVEDDI), the local Community Action Agency in the four county area of Davie, Stokes, Surry, and Yadkin. The Program was housed primarily in the school system and Principals of the schools served as Center Directors. In the summer of 1967, Jo Ann Snow was hired as the Secretary-Bookkeeper and did the major follow-up of services that was required by the Program.
YVEDDI began to realize the inadequacies of a short term program as compared to the many problems of low income children and families. Fortunately, in 1969 the Federal Government under the Nixon Administration decided to request competitive proposals for “conversion” grants (to go from summer to full-year or eight to twelve months). YVEDDI’s proposal, along with letters of support from all of the major agencies within our service area were submitted to serve 400 children. Our proposal was funded, and in 1969 Jo Ann was appointed as Head Start Director. That summer, we served 1200 children and started the full-year program in September 1969 serving 400 children. To keep up with the rising costs, our enrollment was later reduced to 375, 350, and 310. Then, as expansion dollars became available, new classrooms were opened and enrollment rose to 368, and finally to our current enrollment level of 385 children in 22 classrooms at 15 sites.
Head Start’s leadership has had only two directors since its inception at YVEDDI. Jo Ann Snow Larkins was our Head Start Director for 32 years (1967–1999). She was appointed as YVEDDI’s Executive Director in 1999 in response to our Executive Director’s, Jimmy Hutchens’s sudden death. Mr. Hutchens was our Executive Director from 1971-1999. As a result of Jo Ann’s transition to YVEDDI Executive Director, Kathy Payne was promoted from Migrant Head Start Program Coordinator to Head Start Director in October 1999. Jo Ann remained Executive Director until January 2011, at which time she retired with a 43 year career at YVEDDI.
In 2001, YVEDDI Head Start entered into a partnership with the newly established, State funded More at Four (MAF) Program to serve a number of children in Surry County Head Start Centers under a dual enrollment model. MAF was created by former Governor Easley to aid more children in NC to enter public school “ready to learn” and to address the findings of the Leandro Case, in which Judge Manning ruled that every child in the state of NC has the right to a sound, basic education. The MAF program required a class size maximum of 18 children, with a teacher/childratio of 1:9. To participate, Head Start had to open an additional classroom to reduce our class size from 20 to 18.
This class size/ratio change resulted in a progression of 100% 5 Star License. MAF also required an additional month of service (180 days as opposed to 160), and established that teachers will have 4 years to obtain a Bachelor’s degree and become Birth to Kindergarten Certified. Over the years, YVEDDI Head Start’s MAF slot allocation continued to rise, topping out at 201 children who were dually enrolled. The additional funding had a profound impact on our program and afforded us the opportunity to improve our facilities, enhance classroom materials, extend our service year, and pay for higher qualified teachers. These improvements positively and directly impacted every Head Start child in addition to the four year old children, who were dually enrolled in both programs.
In 2010 the program was moved from the Department of Public Instruction to the Division of Child Development and was renamed NC Pre-Kindergarten (NCPK). With recent state cuts and attempts to engage more private child care providers, our slots have been reduced to 164 in the 2012-2013 school year, along with significant financial cuts in reimbursement rates. Going forward, these cuts will adversely affect our service delivery.
Our HS program is made up of a very talented and dedicated staff working under a very supportive administrative agency and board of directors. Many of our staff members were former HS Parents and are wonderful success stories having achieved degrees through their involvement with the program. By way of this talent and heartwarming dedication, the quality of our program continuously improves. In 2001, we had 9 findings in our Federal Triennial Review, in 2004–3 findings, 2007-1 finding, and in 2010-ZERO FINDINGS!!! We are deeply committed to provide the highest quality services possible to our children and families.
To enhance the delivery of services, Head Start collaborates with local education associations,
health providers, social service agencies, religious organizations, groups, and individuals. Our gracious thanks to these professionals for their assistance in helping us to better serve children and families.
Our Commitment to Quality
Our Head Start program adheres to federal, state, and local regulations. A council of program parents and a board of directors, in conjunction with management, share the decision-making about our program. Shared governance and the delivery of ongoing program and fiscal monitoring, as well as training and technical assistance assure the continual growth of quality services to children and families.