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They’ve been educating young children to prepare them for kkindergarten since 1965; nearly fifty years ago.  I’m talking about the Head Start program, an original part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Head Start was an effort to provide a quality preschool education to low income and working poor children throughout the country.  Head Start has been in Indianapolis nearly that entire time.  But in the community discussions and debate about the plans to expand preschool and PreK opportunities to four year olds proposed by both Governor Mike Pence and Mayor Greg Ballard there’s been talk about preschools funded by United Way and preschools operating by churches and faith based organizations.  But virtually no words about Head Start.  In fact some think that Head Start doesn’t exist.  Afternoons with Amos listeners kept asking about Head Start, so we reached out to them and in an extended interview, officials of Family Development Services, which operates ten Head Start locations in Marion and Hamilton Counties appeared to give their perspective.

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Community Alliance of Far Eastside 38th & Post Rd is One Indy Head Start Location

Appearing on the program were Kim Rhodes and David Serrano.  Both explained that Head Start services 2,009 students in both the traditional and Early Head Start programs.  All but one of the Head Start facilities in Indy are rated Level 3 and Level 4 by the State and United Way’s Pathways to Quality.  But Rhodes and Serrano emphasized that Head Start also has national accreditation standards they adhere to. Standards that are somewhat more stringent than the state’s or Untied Way’s.  Rhodes and Serrano said that Heat Start can’t expand services because of their act maximum capacity based upon their current Federal funding.  Hard Start’s aren’t allowed to fund raise, but they can accept grants.  Grants from private companies and foundations could help expand Head Start programs to more children and reduce the program’s sizable waiting list. Also in the interview Rhodes and Serrano talked about the quality of Head Start teachers and the certification required can take up to 18 months to earn from institutions like Ivy Tech.  In the interview Head Start emphasized they’ve been around and will be continue to serve children.  They want to be part of the conversation and solution to expanding quality preschool in Indianapolis.  Click the Media Player to Hear A Viewpoint on Preschool You Haven’t Heard From Head Start. Runs 47 Minutes. ©2014 WTLC/Radio One.