Head Start Celebrates Honor

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Mayor Barbara Brewer will help Payson Head Start celebrate October as "National Head Start Month" at an open house at 5 p.m. Oct. 26.

"I'm so glad to be invited there because my daughter (Amy) was one of the first children to participate in Head Start when it first came to Payson," she said. "Back then it was open to everyone of certain ages."

In addition to honoring national Head Start programs at the open house, Payson's staff and students will be reveling in its recently received accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

"We're proud to be accredited by NAEYC and recognized for our commitment to reach the high professional standards," Payson Head Start Site Manager Lynne Winans said. "NAEYC accreditation lets Payson families know that children are getting the best care and early learning experiences."

NAEYC created its accreditation program in 1985 to set professional standards for early childhood education, and to help families identify high-quality childcare and early education programs.

According to Winans, Payson earned the accreditation after it conducted a voluntary self-study to determine how well it met certain standards.

Among these standards were planned learning activities appropriate to children's ages and development; specially trained teachers and administrators; ongoing professional development; age-appropriate materials; sufficient staffing; and a healthy, safe environment.

Following the self-study, the program was observed by a panel of independent evaluators. Their findings were then reviewed by a national panel before the accreditation was awarded.

In Payson, Pinal-Gila Community Child Services heads the Head Start program. It has 17 participating families and four staff members.

Winans explained PGCCS as a family-centered, community-based, not-for-profit organization that provides opportunities for children, and promotes self sufficiency among families, to build strong, healthier communities.

Head Start is a federal program for preschool children from low-income families and children with disabilities. The children who attend Head Start participate in a variety of educational, mental health, nutrition, wellness and other activities to meet special needs.

Children also receive free medical and dental care, healthy meals and snacks, and enjoy playing indoors and outdoors in a safe setting. Families participate in education, social service, and parent involvement activities.

The Payson Head Start facility is located at 1008 S. Westerly Road. For more information, call (928) 474-2738.

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