Free early learning, health and family well-being support services are available for more than 400 preschool students and their families, who qualify for the LCPS Head Start program for the 2017-18 school year. Registration for the program will take place at 12 elementary schools that offer the program from 9:00-11:00 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, said Dr. Maria Artiaga, LCPS head start director. All Head Start students must be accepted into the program prior to registering for classes.

“Registration is only for families who have been approved by the Head Start program,” Artiaga said. “To get pre-approved, parents need to come to the Head Start office as soon as possible since preschool classes begin on August 17th.”

Head Start is an optional early childhood program funded by the federal government that provides services to children and families who fall within federal poverty guidelines. It is for three- and four-year-olds who must be of age by August 31, Artiaga said.

The Head Start program is available at the following 12 LCPS elementary schools:  Booker T. Washington, César E. Chávez, Columbia, Conlee, Doña Ana, Hermosa Heights, Loma Heights, MacArthur, Mesilla Park, Tombaugh, University Hills and Valley View.

“The Head Start program promotes school readiness by enhancing each student’s social, emotional, language, cognitive, and physical development,” Artiaga said. “The program also works collaboratively with families to offer additional support services and resources.”

To apply, parents or guardians need to bring their child’s original birth certificate, their 2016 tax return and any other income received by the family (such as child support, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), financial aid, etc.) at the time the application is submitted to the Head Start Office, located at Booker T. Washington Elementary, 755 E. Chestnut Ave.

Artiaga said the program typically reserves 10 percent of its program enrollment for children with disabilities. Parents of disabled children are required to submit an application and go through the same process as all other parents.

Head Start is funded for 413 students who are able to participate in either a part-day or a full-day session, she said. Instruction is provided Tuesday through Friday; full-day sessions are designated for 4 year-old children.  Part-day sessions last 3.5 hours and full-day sessions last for 7 hours each day. These sessions operate on a nine-month basis and follow the school district’s calendar.

Artiaga said all 413 students receive services in center-based programs which include: educational instruction, health and nutrition services, disability services, counseling, parent engagement services and activities. Medical and dental examinations are essential for all children who participate in the Head Start program.

Social services are also provided to Head Start children and their families as identified through program referrals.  School breakfast, lunch and snack services are also provided, she added.

For more information, contact Artiaga at (575) 527-6020 or martiaga@lcps.net or visit www.lcps.k12.nm.us/departments/instruction/federal-programs/head-start/.