A new home-based program that will extend Head Start t 3-year-olds could start in January, said Patricia Amass, who coordinates federal and state grants for Carroll County schools.
Ms. Amass said she had hoped the $60,000 federal grant would arrive in time for the program to be offered in September, but Head Start officials have indicated it will come later.
Once she establishes a starting date, the schools will advertise the program to find 16 children in the Westminster area whose families have incomes low enough to qualify. For example, a family of three must have an income of no more than $13,680.
The children and parents will get together once a week, but the teacher also will go to each of their homes for 90 minutes a week to work with parent and child.
"The teacher will help the parents develop language skills with the children using things in their natural home environment," Ms. Amass said.
"He or she will also stress nutrition and health. They might actually do little projects with the parents where they cook something to show the parents how the child can participate and how the parent can talk through the process to build vocabulary," Ms. Amass said.
The weekly social gatherings for parents and children will be at William Winchester Elementary School. The parents and children will participate in some activities together.
Also, children will have a chance to play together while parents attend training on how to help their children succeed in school, Ms. Amass said.
She said the school system applied for the grant because, "We feel for some children, one year [of Head Start] is not enough. If we start working with them earlier, and the parents get involved earlier, we would have a better chance of success."
Also, the county has no services for 3-year-old children who need help with development but who don't qualify for special education, she said.
Many of those children go through the Infant and Toddler Program operated by the Carroll County Health Department with other agencies.
But that program serves them only until they are 3 years old, and Head Start classes won't take them until they turn 4.
Head Start is designed to help low-income children prepare for kindergarten. The children attend school every day, and parents become involved and attend training on helping their children.
In Carroll County, Head Start programs are at Winchester, Robert Moton, Taneytown, Piney Ridge and Elmer Wolfe
elementary schools. A total of 128 children attend the classes.
The money comes from a $291,000 federal grant, a $60,000 state grant and local contributions of space, employee benefits and administration.