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Educate early, agency says

June 10, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Head Start officials would like to start programs in Jefferson, Berkeley and Morgan counties to work with children as young as newborns to make sure they develop properly.

"That first 11 months is the most critical. Once they hit the 12th month, the brain is fully wired," said Diane Ansari, director of Regional Education Service Agency VIII Head Start.

The agency is seeking a federal grant and, if funding is obtained, 20 children from newborns to age 3 could be enrolled in the child development program in Jefferson County, Ansari said.

The program would be intended for children who are economically or otherwise disadvantaged, she said.

The children's parents also would receive training on ways to help their children develop well, she said.

The program would work to provide day care for teen parents from Jefferson High School, said Pat Hubbard, coordinator of vocational, adult and community education. The high school does not provide day care and some teenage parents drop out of school because they are unable to find the service, she said.

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"That helps us kill two birds with one stone," Hubbard said.

The school also would like to find space for day care as a way to keep teens from dropping out, Hubbard said. About 15 to 20 teenage mothers a year go through a special course on life choices to help them, she said.

The grant is being sought for all three counties, but each county would have an individual program, Ansari said.

The Jefferson County program would be held at the new Head Start center next to T.A. Lowery Elementary School on W.Va. 9. Construction of the center was recently completed and it will be officially dedicated on Oct. 5, Ansari said.

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