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DHS News Newsletter April 2009

DHS hosts Head Start Week press conference, announces open house schedule -- distribution of stimulus money explained

April 2009

The region’s Head Start programs are slated to get a one-time $1.86 million boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to information revealed at a press conference on April 23 in the Human Services Building.

Blair Hyatt, executive director of the Pennsylvania Head Start Association, explained how the stimulus money will allow local providers to improve early education opportunities for qualifying families by providing professional development training to Head Start employees, improving transportation systems, purchasing computers and educational software, opening new classrooms and renovating buildings.

“We celebrate Head Start as a valuable resource for our community,” said Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato in a statement release prior to the press conference. “This early childhood education program starts our children on the path to success by giving them the tools they need to be ready for school. Head Start prepares our students, engages our families, and strengthens our community.”

The money, according to Hyatt, will also create local jobs as staff members are added and facility improvements are made, thus positively impacting the region’s economy.

The press conference also unveiled a 4,000-piece art mural created by the region’s current Head Start students, proclaimed the week of April 27 – May 1, 2009 as Head Start Week in Allegheny County, and announced that open houses will be held throughout Head Start Week at sites throughout the County.

Mural promotes healthy message

The mural, entitled “I’m Moving, I’m Learning,” is on display in the lobby and on the lower level of the Human Services Building in downtown Pittsburgh through May.  The mural showcases the theme of this year’s Head Start curriculum, which expands the usual academic subjects to include a focus on good nutrition and fighting childhood obesity.    

Open houses scheduled to encourage early enrollment

Open houses at Head Start centers throughout the city and county gave residents a chance to visit the centers, meet staff members, see facilities first hand, find out program details and benefits, and enroll now for the fall.  A schedule of locations, dates and times is available at www.alleghenycounty.us/dhs/hsopenhouse.aspx. 

“Head Start Week” also kicked off an early enrollment campaign, which encouraged families to sign up for the 2009-2010 school year in order to secure a place for each child in the most convenient location or to select a center that provides transportation if it is needed.

“Statistics show that children who receive a quality early education do better in elementary and high school and have more opportunities available to them throughout life,” said DHS Director Marc Cherna.  “Head Start has been creating those opportunities in the greater Pittsburgh area for more than four decades, and we move into the future with an even greater determination to give our young children more chances to succeed.”

More information on Head Start programs is available at the websites of the three local providers:  Allegheny Intermediate Unit – www.aiu3.net/headstart, Pittsburgh Public Schools – www.pps.k12.pa.us/earlychildhood and Council for Three Rivers American Indian Center  – www.cotraic.org.

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