Infant program a ‘new experience’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 3, 1999

Early Head Start Employee, Dolores Scott smiles at the young baby at her side. &uot;I enjoy working with you, don’t I,&uot; Scott said to Miracle Posey, an infant at Early Head Start.

&uot;It’s a new experience, just like the new millennium.&uot; said Scott, with a laugh.

Scott has worked with Head Start for 14 years.

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But this fall, she decided to take on a new challenge and switched over to the newly-formed Early Head Start Program.

Like regular Head Start this program is located at Thompson School, on North Union Street, and is under the auspices of AJFC Community Action Agency Inc.

The difference is the age of the children. Instead of focusing on preschool students, Early Head Start is designed for newborns and children up to 36-months in age.

&uot;Their a little joy to work with,’ Scott said, about this age group. &uot;It’s fun.&uot;

The program began last month with the capacity to serve 24 babies.

Already all the slots are full and there is a long waiting list, said Charlyn Costley, Earl Head Start Program Manager.

&uot;We are in the process of assessing the children and identifying their weaknesses,&uot; Costley said.

The babies are divided up into three groups based on their age. Each class includes eight babies and has a one to four, teacher to baby ratio, Costley.

Many of the workers said they enjoyed watching the babies grow and develop.

&uot;Miracle has made a big adjustment,&uot; Costley said. &uot;She used to cry every day.&uot;

Each teacher will care for their four babies the entire time they are in Early Head Start, she added.

&uot;That way we know each other and bond together,&uot; said Teacher Toni Williams.

Once the children are old enough, they will join the regular head start program that includes more than 500 preschool students.

AJFC received a $238,000 start-up grant plus an additional $340,000 this year from the Department of Health and Human Services for the program.

The program should continue for at least the next five years, Costley said. As part of the funding, AJFC is offering a neonatal and child care program to 16 pregnant teenagers in the area.

So far, that has been the biggest challenge, with only two pregnant girls signing up for the program. For this reason, Early Head Start has decided to expand its requirements to include mothers in their late teens or slightly older, Costley said.