Head Start now accepting applications for enrollment

OKEECHOBEE – Head Start is now accepting applications for the 2020-2021 school year. Don’t miss this opportunity to register your child/children (ages three and four). Head Start is a free full-day, school-year early childhood education program for low-income, at-risk children and families. Head Start invests over $8,700 in the education of each child each year. To be eligible, your child must be three or four years old on or before Sept. 1, 2020. Services will be provided to families with a household income at or below the federal poverty guidelines, to those who are receiving certain forms of public assistance such as TNAF or SSI, to foster children, and to those who are currently homeless. Apply on line at: https://eocofirc.net/head-start-vpk/.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Head Start children enjoy dramatic play.

Head Start will be resuming in-person classes on Aug. 24. Strict precautions will be followed to keep children and staff safe. Chief among these precautions will be mandatory masks for staff/recommended masks for students, frequent hand washing, social distancing (where possible), deep cleaning and sanitizing over and above Head Start’s already rigorous standards, and specific return to school policies for anyone with symptoms, a diagnosis, or who has been exposed to someone with the virus.

Why choose Head Start? The Head Start Program in Indian River and Okeechobee Counties is operated by Economic Opportunities Council of Indian River County (EOC). EOC has a 55-year successful track record of helping children become kindergarten ready. Head Start is NAEYC accredited and uses evidence-based curriculum. Teachers have degrees. Head Start engages the family in the child’s learning and provides the family with training opportunities and resources. Children receive daily breakfast and lunch. They also receive health and dental screenings. EOC has six Head Start centers throughout Indian River County and two in Okeechobee County.

Head Start is a VPK (voluntary prekindergarten) provider. Parents of 4-year-old children must obtain a valid VPK certificate. Certificates and additional information are available from the Early Learning Coalition of Indian River, Martin and Okeechobee Counties at 877-220-1223.

Although the EOC receives federal funding for the Head Start Program, a 20% local match is required. Donations from caring community members are needed. For every dollar invested today, savings range from $2.50 to as much as $17 in the years ahead (per the U. S. Chamber of Commerce).

EOC is a Community Action Agency working to transition at-risk individuals and families from poverty to self-sufficiency. EOC has a successful track record of providing high-quality programs and services (including Head Start) to economically disadvantaged children and families. For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit www.eocofirc.net, or call 772-562-4177.

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