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Heartland Head Start Plans Family Recruitment Event

Kids playing with a teacher
Greg Wahl-Stephens
Heartland Head Start is well-established and has been providing services since 1965.

Heartland Head Start will pitch low-income families on its unique mix of early childhood preschool and family support services at a recruitment event this weekend.

Head Start—serving children birth to age 5—offers early childhood preschool to income-qualifying families. The program launched in the 1960s with 60 children and has grown to more than 300 kids in McLean and Livingston counties today.

Saturday’s Spring Family Fun Day is a good opportunity for interested families to learn more about Head Start’s holistic approach to early childhood development, said Whitney Chesher, Head Start’s outreach and communications specialist. In addition to classroom time for the kids, Head Start also offers training and learning for parents. It even arranges for medical and dental exams for its kids.

“Just as much as we want the child to succeed, we want mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, any caregiver to succeed too,” Chesher said. “We want them to advance their own learning through education, training, and other experiences that support their parenting, career, financial, and life goals.”

In other words, Head Start is not a day care.

“We’re very quick to denounce that title put on us sometimes,” said Program Operations Manager Alton Shelvin. “We are a program that is getting our families and kids ready for kindergarten.”

Head Start will host its Spring Family Fun Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 9, at Trinity Lutheran Church gym in Bloomington. Current and prospective Head Start families are invited. There will be STEAM projects, hands-on crafts, and healthy snacks available.

“The main purpose is to build connection with families in the community, and to possibly get them started in the process of applying to be in our program,” said Chesher.

Head Start is also looking for volunteers. Both program parents and community members are welcome. Volunteer hours count toward the local community in-kind funding match that's required for Head Start to get all its federal funding, Chesher said. Volunteer opportunities are available online.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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