The New Mexico State University Dona Ana County Head Start has been awarded a Head Start and Early Head Start grant.
In January 2013, the program, which is in the NMSU College of Education, was placed on the Office of Head Start Designation Renewal System list. The process required the program to undergo a competitive grant process, which resulted in NMSU’s selection as the best organization to continue to operate Head Start and Early Head Start grants in the community.
NMSU has operated its Head Start program for 30 years. Currently, the program is funded to serve 245 children ages three to five in eight classrooms throughout Dona Ana County.
“Head Start and Early Head Start programs support the mental, social and emotional development of children from birth to age five,” said Amanda Gibson-Smith, NMSU Dona Ana County Head Start director. “In addition to education services, programs provide children and their families with health, nutrition, social and other services. Head Start services are responsive to each child and family’s ethnic, cultural and linguistic heritage.”
Early Head Start typically serves pregnant women, infants and toddlers. Early Head Start programs are available to the family until the child turns three and is ready to transition into Head Start or another pre-K program. Early Head Start helps families care for their infants and toddlers through early, continuous, intensive and comprehensive services.
“We are excited to be given the opportunity to be able to also offer Early Head Start services to our southern New Mexico families,” Gibson-Smith said. “We will be opening two classrooms for 2- and 3-year olds for 16 children in the Anthony area in time for the new school year. We will be funded to serve 258 Head Start children and 16 Early Head Start children.”
Head Start encourages the role of parents as their child’s first and most important teachers. Programs build relationships with families that support positive parent-child relationships, family well-being and connections to peers and community. Head Start began as a program for preschoolers. Last year, 3- and 4-year olds made up more than 80 percent of the children served by Head Start.
Information from NMSU