Endowment Brings New Preschool to Decatur’s Beltline

Corporate scholarships can pave the way for employees to secure high-quality childcare

Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur and Partnership CEO Tim Thrasher toured the Vivian Conatser-Turner Early Learning Center as renovations are being completed for an August 2019 opening.

Thanks to an endowment awarded to Community Action Partnership of North Alabama (the Partnership), with the help of Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, families of preschool children in Decatur have more options for local early childhood education. The new Vivian Conatser-Turner Early Learning Center is set to open this fall with space for three Infant/Toddler classrooms for children birth to age three, one Head Start classroom for children ages three and four, and one state Pre-K classroom for four-year-olds. During a walk-through of the nearly-complete facility with Partnership CEO Tim Thrasher, Collins reflected on how the decision by the Women’s Leadership Council to fund the project will leave its footprint on local children. “All of the women that worked so hard in the Women’s Leadership Council to promote important women’s and children’s issues will be so excited that the Vivian Conatser-Turner Early Learning Center will be changing the lives of our children forever.”

All of the women that worked so hard in the Women’s Leadership Council to promote important women’s and children’s issues will be so excited that the Vivian Conatser-Turner Early Learning Center will be changing the lives of our children forever.

Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur

Although the Partnership has been serving North Alabama’s preschool children for 50 years, the Vivian Conatser-Turner Early Learning Center provides a new opportunity for employees of local corporations.   Building on its extensive knowledge and experience serving preschoolers, the Partnership is venturing out into the private for-fee early childhood sector for its Infant/Toddler classrooms. 

In response to the challenges many working families face in finding quality care for their infants and toddlers, the Partnership is offering scholarship opportunities to local corporations as a benefit for their employees’ preschool-age children.  Corporate-funded childcare scholarships provide families the peace of mind of high-quality early care for their children while they are at work. Plus, corporations are able to provide a benefit to their employees that allows them to minimize absences often associated with unreliable childcare.  

Corporations interested in investing in their employees or sponsoring working parents in the community by investing in childcare with scholarships for Infant/Toddler care can contact Children’s Services director Kim Dodd at 256-260-3156 (kim.dodd@capna.org), Partnership Development Manager Rebecca Bibb at 256-260-3172 (rebecca.bibb@capna.org) or Center Director Heather Kennedy (heather.kennedy@capna.org).

 

Christmas Comes Early with a New Partnership

A new partnership with Christmas Charities Year Round helps connect eligible families to available services.

Christmas Charities Year Round Executive Director Kristin Hays talks about her agency’s programs and mission with Partnership CEO Tim Thrasher (left), Allison Speegle (Partnership Administration), and Jessica Scott (Partnership Family Services).

Partnerships are defined as a commitment by at least two parties who share the benefits of business operations. The new partnership between Community Action Partnership of North Alabama (The Partnership) and Christmas Charities Year Round (CCYR) of Huntsville is the perfect representation of such a relationship.

The two agencies now share office space at the new CCYR location on Leeman Ferry Road in Huntsville. CCYR Executive Director Kristin Hays offered to spend some time with The Partnership’s CEO Tim Thrasher to give some perspective of how the new partnership is so important to the Huntsville-area families served by both agencies.

All services provided by CCYR are free in the same way that the early childhood services at The Partnership are provided at no cost to enrolled families. CCYR serves the Huntsville area with a mobile closet, with regular visits to local schools. Since the establishment of the partnership between the two agencies, CCYR has committed to serving Head Start classrooms located at the UAH center one day a month. Families are able to receive quality clothing at no cost. In turn, Partnership employees help support CCYR with the demands of maintaining programs and referring families for services.

The Mobile Closet at Christmas Charities Year Round

Partnership Family Engagement staff member Jessica Scott said of the new partnership, “We can refer our families to Christmas Charities for services right here. They may have an appointment with them at 7:30 a.m. and then with us at 8:00 a.m. They don’t have to go anywhere else. It’s so awesome, you guys.” And because of the new partnership, Jessica was connected with HEALS, Inc. to conduct health screenings on enrolled children in Huntsville-area Head Start classrooms.

After only two months in their new location, both Christmas Charities Year Round and the five-member Partnership Family Engagement staff have settled in and focused their collective efforts on serving the families of Huntsville and Madison County. With new partnerships being established regularly by both non-profit agencies, families with low incomes are being connected to more programs and services than ever before. And with each family served, the Partnership’s mission to reduce or eliminated the causes and consequences of poverty is met.

What 54 Means

For Head Start grantees, 54 is more than just another birthday

The number 54 can mean many things. In units of measurement, things can weigh 54 pounds, be 54 inches long, or last 54 days. A 17-foot Delta Expedition kayak weighs 54 pounds. Twice around the circumference of a bowling ball is 54 inches. And some consider 54 days the perfect amount of time before a trip to book a flight. But for those who are immersed in the Head Start world, 54 has an even more important meaning. On May 18, 2019, Head Start celebrated its 54th birthday.

The Partnership celebrated Head Start’s 54th birthday at multiple sites across the 16-county service area.

On May 18th, 1965, in the White House Rose Garden, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced to the nation the creation of Project Head Start. Since that date, more than 32 million children and their families have benefited from Head Start. Each child and family has a story. Each has experienced different outcomes. All have been prepared for school, work, and life, thanks to Head Start.

In the last 54 years, we have seen the birth of the internet, our first African-American president, the advent of electric cars, and so many more improvements on our daily lives. But none so impactful as the the quality of early childhood education provided by Head Start.

In addition to life and school preparedness, Head Start is also the nation’s laboratory for early learning innovation. Head Start offers a unique whole child/whole family program design coupled with a delivery system that includes local programs, national standards, monitoring, professional development, and family engagement. This has been the basis for many subsequent statewide and community initiatives.

National Head Start Association

According to the National Head Start Association, children are 93% less likely to become a statistic in the foster care system when they participate in Head Start as compared to not enrolling in an early childhood education (ECE) program. No other ECE program can make that claim. And Head Start’s outcomes last well beyond a child’s last day of Head Start enrollment. Compared with children who were cared for exclusively by parents during early childhood, the performance of Head Start children on cognitive and social-emotional measures in kindergarten exceeded those of their peers. Plus, children who had completed a Head Start program had fewer attention and behavior problems as their peers.

Children learning through play in an Early Head Start classroom

The Partnership’s early childhood programs include Early Head Start, Preschool Head Start, Pre-K, EHS Home Bound, First Teacher Home Visiting, and Child Care Partnerships. For program year 2018, more than 2,600 children and families received early childhood education services that included health and wellness screenings, developmental screenings, and family engagement opportunities in addition to the classroom education provided for enrolled children. Across six developmental domains (math, literacy, cognitive, language, physical, and social-emotional), children enrolled in Partnership programs exhibited an average of 23% gains in development from fall to spring.

Thanks to Head Start’s Learning Outcomes Framework and Program Performance Standards, children enrolled in Head Start benefit from one of the nation’s oldest and most successful early childhood programs in history. The War on Poverty continues. And so does the commitment of Head Start grantees across the nation to provide the highest quality early childhood education possible to help move children and families out of poverty for good.

Labor of Love Opens In Marshall County

Albertville Head Start Early Learning Center Prepares for 2019-2020 Early Childhood Recruiting Season

Recruitment season for 2019-20 has begun for The Partnership’s Children’s Services staff.  And the new Albertville site is ready for the applications from local families looking for a high-quality center to serve their preschoolers.  The Albertville site is located at 908 Cooley Street in Albertville just off of U.S. Highway 431.  The site was acquired to consolidate other locations in Marshall County that were in structures considered less than ideal for housing preschool children, including mobile facilities or dated buildings in need of extensive upgrades.

Classroom Specialist Letha Cannon is based at the Albertville site and supervises classroom staff for four classrooms: one Early Head Start classroom that serves children birth to three years of age, plus pregnant women, and three preschool Head Start classrooms that serve children ages three to five, or up to eligibility for kindergarten.

We provide that comprehensive program to make sure that we are supporting the parent and training for them and the children so that we can prepare them to become school-ready with skills for school and skills for life.

-Letha Cannon, Albertville Children’s Services Classroom Specialist

In 2018, The Partnership served more than 2,500 children in 16 counties across North Alabama in a variety of early childhood programs.  Early Head Start serves children birth to three years, plus pregnant women.  Preschool Head Start serves children ages three to five, up to eligibility for kindergarten.  Home Visiting programs include Early Head Start Home Visiting and First Teacher Programs. These programs serve families in their homes through qualified staff with extensive early childhood education backgrounds.  And Child Care Partnerships are provided through collaborative efforts between The Partnership and local child care providers.

Applications for Partnership early childhood education programs may be started online with the selection of program and location preferences .  Once the pre-application has been submitted, families are contacted by Family Engagement staff to complete the application in person.  Each applicant follows the same intake process and selection is made based on a points system for prioritization. 

To find our Early Head Start or Head Start location nearest you visit us online at www.capna.org and click your county of residence.