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Community Action Council bows out of Head Start role

January 18, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

After 34 years overseeing the operation of the Head Start program in Washington County, the Community Action Council has bowed out.

"This action frees the Community Action Council to focus on the multitude of direct services aimed at changing the lives of low- and moderate-income families," said Cheryl Moyer Walkley, executive director of the agency.

Head Start's direct services to more than 400 children have been and will continue to be provided by The Washington County Board of Education and Resources for Children and Families, she said.

The Community Action Council's role was mainly to write the grant application each year and administer the funds. For that, the Community Action Council received $38,000, or just under 2 percent of the $2.1 million Head Start annual grant, Walkley said.

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"Some other agency will now have to do those administrative duties," Walkley said, noting that decision will be made by the regional Head Start Office.

During the past 34 years, the Head Start program in Washington County has grown to serve 418 children and their families, Walkley said. It's received high marks over the years for its impact.

"Just last Friday, the federal quality review committee came through and we are anticipating a good report," Walkley said. "They left here happy."

The goal is to provide ongoing educational and socialization opportunities for both pre-school children and their families who have a unique part in the decision-making and management of the program.

A pioneer in early childhood education, Head Start also provides medical, dental, vision and hearing services.

The Washington County Board of Education has multiple sites throughout the county which serve 210 children. The newest site is at Smithsburg Elementary School.

Resources for Children and Families serves 208 children - 152 of those are at the Martin Luther King Center on West North Avenue, 36 are at a Noland Avenue site and 20 or so children are in a home-based program that serves the more rural areas of Washington County.

Head Start has also established partnering programs with local child care providers for full-day services to children and their families at the same site, Walkley said.

Community Action Council will continue to help families in crises, working to prevent evictions and utilities cut-offs, and to provide shelter, food and prescriptions.

Energy assistance, shelter for the homeless, rental allowance programs, United Way-funded Meals on Wheels, and Placement Housing Counseling are also among the services provided by the Community Action Council.

The goal is family stabilization and eventual self-sufficiency, Walkley said.

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