SMSB will operate parish Head Start
The St. Martin School Board has been awarded a multi-million grant to operate the federal Head Start program in St. Martin Parish beginning in January.
Nicole Angelle, supervisor of the board’s Title I Family Involvement and Early Childhood programs, announced the grant award during last week’s monthly board meeting.
The award total for the first year of implementation is $4,568,352, which includes $831,180 for start up costs and $3,737,172 for program implementation.
“We are in the transition phase with the current grantee, Community Development Institute,” Angelle said. “This will continue to Dec. 31 and the St. Martin School Board will officially become the new grantee on Jan. 1, 2021.”
Current Head Start locations in St. Martinville and Breaux Bridge will continue to be used but the Huron site north of Cecilia will be phased out.
Angelle said she is currently negotiating for the purchase of a vacant facility on Bordelon Road to serve the Cecilia school zone. The grant includes funds for the acquisition of the site, which must meet criteria established by the Office of Head Start.
Children from birth to age five who are from families with incomes below the poverty guidelines are eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services. Children from homeless families, and families receiving public assistance such as TANF or SSI are also eligible. Foster children are eligible regardless of their foster family’s income.
The poverty guidelines are adjusted for families of different sizes and are issued each year in the Federal Register by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Angelle says the Head Start and Early Head Start programs are planning on providing services to 312 children between the ages of 3-5 and 92 children between the ages of 0-2 as well as a dozen or so pregnant women.
Job opportunities will be posted on the School Board website and interviews will be taking place during November.
“We will have staff training in November and December,” says Angelle, “so that all staff members are prepared for January.”
The grant cycle is for a five-year period. Each year the program goes through an evaluation by the Office of Head Start. At the end of the five-year period, the grant will be re-awarded to St. Martin Parish without another competitive application process provided no discrepancies are found.