Official: Head Start making progress

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 24, 2000

Natchez’s Head Start program is improving and taking steps to better serve its 929 students.

That’s the impression of Joanne Benson, a child development program specialist with the Administration for Children and Families in Atlanta.

&uot;I think they’re progressing,&uot; Benson said.

Email newsletter signup

Benson and a team of officials visited Natchez this week to assess the progress of the Head Start program and other similar federally-funded programs operated by AJFC Community Action Agency Inc.

Last year, AJFC scored poorly on a standard evaluation, prompting ACF to give Natchez’s Head Start more attention in recent months.

In early 1999, AJFC scored below standard on 14 of 17 of the areas evaluated by the federal government, including program governance, planning, communication, record-keeping and reporting, ongoing monitoring, facilities, curriculum, prevention and intervention.

AJFC must return to standard by summer or lose its grant designation.

There are no guarantees, but Benson remains optimistic AJFC will continue to be funded.

&uot;I’m confident that they will be able to accomplish what they need to,&uot; Benson said.

The officials spent the past two days meeting with AJFC personnel and discussing areas that need improvement.

Officials will return to Natchez in May for further evaluation, Benson said.

AJFC is in its 33rd year of operation and receives an annual $4,554,137 grant from ACF, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.

As part of the visit, experts also examined the physical condition of Thompson School.

The school has been plagued by roof problems in recent years and is currently operating under a probational license from the Mississippi Department of Health.