March 14, 2012

Head Start registration begins in early April

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The time to apply for the fall session of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Head Start program is fast approaching.

The pre-kindergarten program meets at six different locations serving children and families from Jackson and Williamson counties.  Several enrollment sessions are planned at various times and locations in April and May.  The new Head Start program year kicks off in August. 

To attend Head Start, children must be at least three years old by Sept. 1, 2012, but not old enough to attend kindergarten.  Preschool children with disabilities as well as foster children and homeless children have priority enrollment status. 

Head Start offers weekday morning, afternoon or all-day program options.  There is no charge for children to attend the partial-day programs.  Families interested in full-day enrollment must meet eligibility requirements for childcare subsidy and make a co-payment for services.  Head Start officials encourage all families with preschool age children to apply as federal income guidelines for the program have changed.

There is free bus transportation available in designated service areas.

“Since my son started at SIU Carbondale Head Heart, our lives have changed for the better,” Jesse Peldo, parent of a child attending the Marion Head Start Center, said.  “I would recommend that any family and friends enroll their children in Head Start.  I believe it is a valuable tool for both children and parents to ready themselves for the journey of kindergarten.”

Parents should call in advance, if possible, to schedule appointments during the enrollment sessions. The registration schedule, with numerous sessions available to accommodate families and their diverse schedules, includes:

    •  Carbondale Center, 1900 N. Illinois Ave., Carbondale (618/453-2440) -- 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 3 and 30.

    •  Johnston City Center, 901 Prosperity Ave., Johnston City (618/983-8459) -- 9 a.m.-7 p.m. April 4 and May 2.

    •  Murphysboro Center, 9822 Illinois Route 149, Murphysboro (618/687-4433) -- 9 a.m.-7 p.m. April 9 and May 10.

    •  Marion Center, 907 N. Vicksburg St., Marion (618/997-4255) -- 9 a.m.-7 p.m. April 17 and May 17.

    •  There are two Carterville co-locations and a joint enrollment session for both locations is set for 4:30-6:30 p.m. on April 10 at the John A. Logan College Childcare Lab in Carterville.  Children may attend Head Start at Logan (618/997-2216, ext. 229, or 618/985-3741, ext. 8241) or at the Malone Co-Location (618/997-2216, ext. 229 or 618/985-3366) at 108 Walnut St., Carterville.

The enrollment process takes about an hour and includes completion of a written application.  Children need not be present except if enrolling at the collaborative John A. Logan College location in Carterville.  There, children will also undergo a screening.  A parent or legal guardian must be present.

Those enrolling children should bring as much of the required documentation as possible including the child’s official birth certificate (obtained from the county clerk, not the hospital), proof of income from all sources for the prior 12 months, and the child’s most recent health information.  The health information consists of: physical exam, TB screening, blood lead test, immunization records, hemoglobin/hematocrit screening and dental exam.  Parents must provide documentation unavailable at the time of registration before their child begins classes in August.

Although it’s preferable to register children during one of the April or May enrollment sessions, parents unable to attend any of those sessions may enroll their child by calling or visiting their preferred center as soon as possible to schedule an appointment at another time.

SIU Carbondale, with federal grant funding, administers the Jackson and Williamson counties Head Start Programs.  For more information, contact the University’s Head Start administrative office at 618/453-6448 or 618/997-2216 during office hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.