There are big changes at JCEO. Head Start/Early Head Start Director Jackie Skiff has reallocated resources to meet changing regional needs. With the expansion of universal pre-kindergarten in recent years, the need for Head Start slots in the region has declined. Jackie's solution was visionary and pragmatic: she applied to the Department of Health and Human Services to change some Head Start slots to Early Head Start slots. As a result, Head Start continues to serve 269 children, and Early Head Start is providing 48 previously un-served children with home visits.
JCEO has been providing Head Start at its Head Start Centers and through home visits for 50 years in Clinton County and since 1998 in Franklin County. Until now, there has been no Early Head Start in the counties.
Head Start is a federally funded program that provides services to income-eligible families with three to four year-olds. Early Head Start provides similar services through home visits to income-eligible families from pregnancy through age three. Families may transition from EHS to HS in order to receive up to five years of services. The programs support parents in their role as primary caregivers and empower families to meet their personal goals and achieve self-sufficiency. By enrolling families early in their children's lives, the programs improve child development and health outcomes through parenting education, health guidance, and family advocacy services. Head Start also helps families with children with disabilities find resource and network with each other. In the years that Jackie has been administering Head Start, she has seen parents get their high school equivalence degree, enroll in higher education, start a business, and, invariably, improve their parenting skills.
BT3 applauds Jackie for her vision and skill in serving the families of Clinton and Franklin Counties.