Thursday, August 03, 2006

Head Start Program Among Nation's Best

Head Start Program Among Nation's Best
By Susan Winlow

FAIRFIELD - The Solano and Napa County Head Start program recently earned the National Head Start Association's highest award.

Child Start Inc., which operates the Head Start program in both counties, earned the Quality Initiative Program of Achievement. In a field of 2,700 Head Start programs in the United States, Child Start and two other U.S. programs were singled out for their outstanding quality of preschool education services offered to young children and families, and the positive impact the program has on the community.

"We've been working so hard and we're proud of ourselves," said Lisa Wiggins, a teacher at the Mariposa 2 site in Vacaville. "It takes a village, right? We have a big village."

The local Head Start program not only promotes kindergarten readiness for the child, it helps entire families prepare for a child's entry into the school system.

"We deal with moms, dads and siblings," said Debra George, a teacher at the Woolner Avenue site in Fairfield. "We try to help the whole family and not just the child who is registered with our program."

The Program of Achievement is given after a Head Start program is reviewed and certified to be in full compliance with Head Start performance standards. The program also undergoes a review of 77 achievement indicators in several areas such as organizational development, parental involvement and program enrichments.

Earning awards is not new to Child Start. It received several other honors from the National Head Start Association, which include being named a 40th Anniversary Head Start Grantee. Child Start executive director Jackie Dollar Harrison received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Head Start, a federally funded program designed to help low-income families, began nationwide in 1965 and Napa County provided one of the first Head Start sites that year.

Child Start was created in 2000 to operate the Head Start programs - and other early childhood development services - in both Solano and Napa Counties.

In Solano County, Fairfield, Suisun City and Travis Air Force Base are the county's three biggest draws for Head Start, said Erin Busby, the regional program director. Out of 1,000 children, 380 are from those three areas.

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or

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