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County to get 2 Judy Centers

December 21, 2000

County to get 2 Judy Centers



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


Two Judy Hoyer Family Learning Centers will be set up in Washington County, one at Bester Elementary School and the other at the Washington County Family Center, the Board of Education announced Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Board of Education was awarded a $646,677 state grant with renewable one-year extensions until June 30, 2005 to set up the centers. Nearly 40 percent of the grant awarded in each period will be given to community agencies to provide services at the centers. About 11 agencies agreed to partner with the Board of Education.

The school system will oversee the centers and handle finances, but the partner organizations will share responsibility for ongoing issues such as administration, placement, program eligibility and ongoing assessments.

The grant was provided by the Maryland State Department of Education.

Deputy Superintendent Theresa Flak said the centers will offer full-day, full-year services designed to cultivate physical, social, emotional, cognitive and linguistic readiness for school in young children, particularly for ages birth through five. They will also provide support services for families and adult education and literacy services.

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"It's really nice to get an early Christmas present here in Washington County," said Washington County Commissioners President Gregory Snook. "It's a win-win for the county."

The County Commissioners agreed to pay a salary of $67,500 for the next five years for a program officer to direct the center at both sites.

Judy Centers are named after the late Judith P. Hoyer, an early childhood educator in Prince George's County Public Schools and wife of Congressman Steny Hoyer.

Other services that centers will provide are a half-day pre-school at Bester, which will be available during the school year and summer; a full-time case manager who will coordinate family-based services for each Judy Center family; mental health counseling services provided either on-site or through referral; enhanced services to mothers and infants at risk through Healthy Start; a prevention/intervention worker who will serve children at risk and their families at both sites; expanded school health services at Bester Elementary, which include health screenings; parent education to first-time parents through Healthy Families Washington County; classes in computer programs for young mothers in need of job skills; enhanced child care services for parents of children with disabilities and child care vouchers to meet the needs of families participating in Judy Center programs.

John Festerman, the Board of Education's director of elementary education, said interested families will be screened to determine eligibility. Eligibility will be based on the needs of children and their families.

"This is going to have a tremendous impact," School Board President J. Herbert Hardin said.

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