Southern Pines Head Start

The Head Start center in Southern Pines. 

Moore County families hoping to enroll their children in Head Start have been left in limbo in this year’s interagency transfer of the federally-funded preschool program.

Centers in Aberdeen, Southern Pines, Taylortown and Vass that for decades have offered full-day preschool at no cost to the children of low-income families remain shuttered and without signs of activity two months after they would traditionally have started a new year.

In early August, the federal government awarded a $3.5 million grant to Save the Children Federation, Inc. to operate Head Start in Moore, Montgomery and Stanly counties beginning this fall. The Connecticut-based agency also received a separate grant to run programs in Cabarrus County.

At that time, Save the Children executive director for Head Start Khari Garvin said that the agency anticipated that programs would resume by early October, serving about 130 children in Moore County. That’s down from 150 in years past. The agency also plans to reduce the number of Moore County Head Start centers from four to two.

But as of yet none of the centers have reopened, and parents have received little clear information about when they will — or even whether their children will have a place when they do.

To be sure her twin daughters would be able to attend Head Start in Aberdeen as soon as they turned three, Tashi Whitney applied in August of 2018 for the current school year. At the time, the Salisbury-Rowan Community Action Agency managed Head Start in Moore and four other central North Carolina counties as they had done since the early 1990s.

Though that agency had encountered financial difficulties in recent years, parents had no indication that Head Start stood to be under new management. SRCAA continues to operate Head Start programs in Rowan and Davidson counties.

Whitney said that she was assured as recently as this past May that her daughters were enrolled in Head Start for this fall.

“I was told the girls were accepted and that I would receive a letter in the mail and an email, but I never received either of those,” she said.

“Around August is when I really started looking into it and whether my girls would be able to go, because I really wanted them to go to Head Start versus a daycare. In the process I saw other parents were experiencing the same thing. Their kids had gone the previous year and they still hadn’t heard anything.”

The Pilot has been unable to reach Garvin or Save The Children’s North Carolina Head Start director Chris Felder, for an update on the program’s status. In August, Garvin said that the agency was pursuing licensure with the N.C. Department of Child Development and Early Education, securing leases on the Head Start centers, and hiring and certifying staff.

Whitney said that she’s had to leave her children with family members as her school schedule and her their father’s work schedule demand. Though she spoke to Felder earlier this month, at the time he offered no definite answers about opening dates or whether or not her daughters will be enrolled.

“I really want them to go to a Head Start because I want them to actually learn something and be ready to transition to kindergarten when it’s time, but I was left in the dark about the whole situation,” she said.

Save the Children is working to take over the lease of the Head Start center on Glasgow Street, which is owned by the Town of Aberdeen. Salisbury-Rowan director Rocky Cabagnot formally relinquished that agency’s interest in the property in a Sept. 4 letter to Town Manager Paul Sabiston. SRCAA maintained and insured the property under a special warranty deed as long as it operated a Head Start program there.

Garvin requested in a Sept. 18 letter that the town enter into a similar arrangement with Save the Children, which would allow the agency to use the facility at no cost as long as it provides Head Start programming. The Aberdeen Town Commissioners briefly discussed the proposal, and are expected to consider approving the lease at their regular meeting next week.

(11) comments

Jim Tomashoff

Mark, I guess your argument is that unless someone has direct personal experience with something they should not express any opinion about it. Right? So there is no point in learning about something through the direct experience of others and their observations or the studying of that something by interviewing people with direct experience or by studying the data generated about that something. Well so much for an informed public. We should adopt your seeming philosophy of life, i.e. "I know nothing and I'm not going to waste my time learning about anything because in the absence of my direct experience such learning is irrelevant."

Mark Hayes

Jim Tomashoff... I asked a question, you had no answer to that question, so now you are going off the deep end with another long winded reply. As impressed as I can be with your Google searched capabilities, yet I find there is nothing better than personal experience , now that is my philosophy on life.

Jim Tomashoff

It was a ridiculous question, the same one you ask all the time.

Kent Misegades

Best for children and taxpayers is to close it for good: “Head Start Programs Are Setting Kids Up for Failure”, Foundation for Economic Education, 2017.

Lynne Ezzell

Kent, obviously you have never been in a Head Start classroom or gone through kindergarten registration and been able to see the difference in kids who have been in an early education program verses those who have just been kept at home.

Dan Roman

For the sake of all of us Kent really needs to start a new life on another planet. One which runs in a fashion which he would approve. He is certainly and obviously dissatisfied and constantly, tiresomely expresses a negative opinion with and about everything on planet Earth.

Jim Tomashoff

The Foundation for Economic Education is, of course, a radical Libertarian organization. As such it is inherently in opposition to any and all programs, institutions, and actions associated with government at any level, federal, state, and local. For radical Libertarians, like Kent, the world is to be run on the basis of Social Darwinism, only the Makers, and Kent sees himself as such, should have any role in setting society's rules and mores. The Takers, probably 95% of people, are to be used exclusively for the economic and political benefit of the Makers. Takers don't need programs like Head Start. Takers need hardly education at all, just enough to make their contribution to the Maker's needs efficient, but not enough to get crazy ideas like freedom and equality, not withstanding that the root word of Libertarian is "Liberty." Kinda ironic, isn't it?

Mark Hayes

Jim Tomashoff... You seem well acquainted with these pre school programs, did your own child or children attend one of these programs, if so when and where ? Although my own did not, she still excelled in her studies, so I would not be as informed as you must be. The opinions vary on these programs, some tax payers consider them to be just a free day-care program, let us know how your own child obtained educational achievement from their attending. I consider the Lynne Ezzell more to the point, although difficult to be proven as to the actual benefit from attending these programs. I look forward to the sharing with us your own experience with these programs.

Jim Tomashoff

"Preschool interventions are arguably one of the most important elements of support for poor families. Head Start, a federal program for children in low-income families administered through the Department of Health and Human Services, is a case in point. While research shows a range of benefits lasting beyond preschool for participants, evidence of the “fade-out” of cognitive gains of the preschool years and the differential impact of the program on children with different skill levels in the preschool population has prompted debate over its efficacy. Our recent work is the first comprehensive analysis of how modern Head Start impacts vary across the skill distribution in the preschool and early elementary period. We find evidence of a large and positive short-term effect of Head Start, and that cognitive gains are largest at the bottom of the achievement spectrum, particularly among Hispanic children.1 The results of our study and others showing a positive effect in other areas add to the evidence of the success of Head Start in improving the wellbeing of poor children."

This is just one of countless studies of the merits, or lack thereof, of Head Start. You can easily find many others, as I did, by doing a simple Google Search ("Results of Head Start"). And since we all know how very, very sincere of your interest in this program (sic), I'm sure you'll spend several hours reading up of these results. And for what it is worth, Head Start eligibility is aimed at ,"Children from birth to age five who are from families with incomes below the poverty guidelines are eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services. Children from homeless families, and families receiving public assistance such as TANF or SSI are also eligible." according to HHS. See, you've learned something already.

Mark Hayes

Jim Tomashoff ... In other words you have no actual experience, you are just posting to display that ability to Google search. I get that, but it does not answer the question of your own experience, which obviously you have none. Why not just post that instead of this blathering comment about what you found on Google searches, you should start posting on actual personal experiences, drop a few pounds of that arrogance.

Lynne Ezzell

Mark I suggest you ask any public school kindergarten teacher working in lower income districts if they see a difference in children exposed to early education opportunities opposed to those who are not. They can give you first hand knowledge of how these programs help.

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