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CAPC begins Head Start open enrollment

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The Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County has begun open enrollment for its 2013-14 Head Start program, and already more than 200 people are on the waiting list.

Although there are only 275 slots to fill in Jefferson County, Head Start staff said it’s not too late to enroll. In fact, there may even be some loopholes in which parents could have their child climb toward the top of the list.

“We’re able to waive income (guidelines) if there’s a high-risk family situation, or if the child has a diagnosed special need,” said Cindy L. Dumas, CAPC family service specialist. “It’s not first come, first served. It’s all individualized.”

Income eligibility is waived if the family receives supplemental security income or temporary assistance for needy families, or if the child is in foster care or is homeless.

Participants typically should meet income eligibility guidelines. For example, a family of four must not have a gross yearly income above $29,965.

A 3-year-old who has been on the waiting list for a year will move up the waiting list as he or she turns 4.

Marie E. Ambrose, CAPC’s Head Start/prekindergarten director, said the agency has had an allotment of 275 students since the mid-to-late 1990s. While CAPC consistently has received $2.1 million from the federal government for its Head Start program, it also has had minimal cost of living adjustments each year. Last year, the adjustment was a 0.72 percent increase.

“We’ve managed to sustain all of our programs and quality of the program,” Mrs. Ambrose said.

The agency is recruiting children who are or will turn 3 or 4 before Dec. 1 for home-based Head Start or Head Start sites in Dexter, Carthage, Adams Center, Antwerp and Watertown. Children may participate in the full-day, part-day, home-based or combination options for children who are 3 of some classroom and home visits.

The program’s 2012-13 focus of parent/family community engagement will continue in the 2013-14 school year, Mrs. Dumas said. Focusing on school readiness, she said, is also another program highlight.

Mrs. Dumas said people who would like to get their child on the Head Start waiting list should call CAPC at 782-4900.

“Enrollment can be a double-edged sword,” she said. “We want people on our list, but then again we don’t want them waiting forever for services. We’ll screen anyone who calls. It’s important they call, and we accept new children all the way until April.”

Children are selected in May for the 2013-14 Head Start program.

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