Head Start set for expansion in the county | CraigDailyPress.com

Head Start set for expansion in the county

A partnership between Moffat County School District and the nonprofi Rocky Mountain Service, Employment and Development will see the expansion of Head Start in Moffat County. Pictured: Parents take their child to the Early Childhood Center for the first day of school in 2016.

Preschool space is set to expand due to a new partnership with Head Start.

An agreement has been struck between Moffat County School District and the nonprofit Head Start provider Rocky Mountain Service Employment Redevelopment to join forces in providing early learning in Moffat County.

"They are going to do the education piece. We will do the support services piece," said CEO of RMSER Christopher Hall.

In the past the school district has provided about 150 children with early childhood services and this year that number will expand by about 60 places.

"I think it is the right thing for the kids in our district," said Superintendent of Schools Dave Ulrich.

East Elementary Principal Sarah Hepworth has seen first hand the difference that early education can make.

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"Two years ago we had a lot of kids that didn't know anything about books. They didn't have preschool experience. Kids were holding books upside down," she said. "Kids that are in preschool are coming to school with early learning skills.

RMSER has been providing federally funded Head Start programs to kids age 3 to 5 in Moffat County since 1984.

They started on the Western Slope and have now expanded across the state, but have recently decided focus on creating partnerships with schools to more fully integrate the program with existing early education offerings.

"We are tying to do some cutting edge stuff," Hall said.

The agreement with Moffat County will be the second after a similar agreement between RMSER and Roaring Fork schools last year.

"We worked out the kinks and the bugs and now what we are tying to do is create a partnership… they offer early childhood education with funds from the state, we bring our federal dollars to provide more services to the child," Hall said.

Head Start got its start in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty. Unlike traditional preschool, it goes beyond the classroom to also provide human social services to low income families that might be struggling.

"If the parent is struggling we try to help them identify support, let's say a job or work with the parent in finding a place to live," Hall said. "We've been offering some awesome services. What we are trying to do (with the new partnership) is not eliminate, but enhance those services."

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.