For Logan resident Lisa Richards, the Head Start program is a family matter. Richards, 30, is now the center coordinator for Athens Head Start, but she started as a parent whose three children – now 8, 11 and 12 – attended the Logan Head Start program. Head Start is a national program that promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through educational, health, nutritional, social and other services offered to enrolled students and families. Richards had a longtime interest in teaching and soon began working at the center, earning her degree in early childhood education from Ohio University along the way.
Richards has served as the center coordinator in Athens since August 2006 and is getting another chance to watch one of her own benefit from the program; she is the caretaker of her 5-year-old nephew, Keith, who has ADHD. Keith has been enrolled in the Logan Head Start program for the last year, and Richards said he is calmer and happier due to the patient efforts of his Head Start instructors.
Richards’ Hocking, Athens, Perry Community Action Head Start program was chosen as one of the pilots for Ohio’s statewide “Step Up to Quality” rating system. The system is a voluntary set of health, safety and quality standards for early child care and education centers developed by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services and the Ohio Department of Education in 2005. Participating programs receive a 1-5 star rating based on their compliance with the standards, with 5 being the highest.
15 early childhood education programs in Athens, Hocking, Columbiana, Lawrence, Pike and Tuscawaras counties are rated as 5-star programs according to the criteria. The full list can be found here.
Maureen Boggs is the director for the Early Care and Education division of the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development (COAD), which provides parent referrals, training and a free lending library for community action agencies’ Head Start programs. She said the state ratings give their programs important credibility. Fifteen of COAD’s 17 community action member agencies offer Head Start.
Early childhood care and education is just one area in which COAD offers assistance for its member agencies in Appalachian Ohio. Others include programs for senior citizens, professional leadership and community development, and mirror the diverse services offered by the organization’s community action agencies.
COAD recently established an endowment fund with the Nelsonville-based Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) to sustain support services and resources for their member agencies. All distributions from the fund will be decided on by a committee composed of agency representatives and will go directly to individual member agency activities.
McCauley commented on the benefits of creating an endowed fund with a community foundation like FAO, which allows the fund to remain and grow in perpetuity.
Donate now to the COAD Fund of the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio!