A $1.4 million U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant will help fund the Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency's Head Start program, which will benefit the agency in Rutherford County, U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon announced today.
"Head Start has played a vital role in improving the overall health and well-being of children," Gordon said. "In recent years, Head Start has been able to help more children by moving from a part-day, part-year program to a full-day, full-year program. Additionally, results of the program have been quantified and used not only to improve various Head Start programs, but to also help staff determine which issues need special attention."
Head Start Director Janet Ogles said the grant will allow the agency to continue to provide services to more than 822 children in Cannon, Cheatham, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Trousdale, Williamson and Wilson counties.
"Our scores in the national reporting system have been higher in every category for the third year," Ogles said. Head Start children rank higher than the national average in the areas for which they are tested – math, science and vocabulary, she said.
Head Start has initiated a literacy project and a sleep campaign and is working on addressing childhood obesity.
"The sleep campaign seems to be helping," Ogles said. "Not getting enough sleep reflects in children's grades, which are much lower."
Head Start has applied for a grant, along with Middle Tennessee State University, to buy equipment and music and to set up their classrooms and playgrounds in such a way as to encourage children to exercise, Ogles said.
Currently, Head Start is working with children in the classrooms and their parents to increase the children's exercise activities.
"Head Start has provided invaluable resources for many Rutherford County families," Gordon said. "Not only has the program been extremely successful in giving children the extra encouragement many require to excel in the classroom, but it also helps parents enhance their skills so they can better provide for their children."