July 20, 2004 Preschool starts for Head Start youngsters on Sept. 7. If you have a child who is eligible, now is the time to register. To enter the program, children must be at least 3 years but not more than 4 years and 9 months of age by September.
Ed Lind, preschool coordinator at the Human Services Department, said the age guidelines dovetail with those of the Education Department, so youngsters can go from Head Start directly into kindergarten.
Registration is being held weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Human Services offices at 6179 Estate Anna's Hope on St. Croix and at the Knud Hansen Complex on St. Thomas. Parents need to take along their child's birth certificate and immunization card, Social Security cards for all family members and proof of family income.
Lind said the family income cap for one parent and one child is $12,493 a year. The maximum income for one parent and two children is $15,670 per year. He said it goes up about $3,180 for each additional family member.
According to Lind, St. Thomas has 18 Head Start centers, St. Croix has about 45 and St. John has one. He said the territory receives $8.9 million a year from the federal government to fund Head Start, and the local government chips in another $3 million.
He said the late President Lyndon B. Johnson started the program in 1965 to give children from low-income families a head start when they got to kindergarten.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Web site, Head Start serves more than 1,100 children in the territory and more than 900,000 all told on the mainland and in U.S. territories. Since its start, more than 22 million children have benefitted from the program, which currently costs federal taxpayers $6.7 billion a year to fund.
Lind said the program is very successful and Head Start children enter kindergarten filled with curiosity and excitement about learning.
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