Experienced group takes over Head Start - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Experienced group takes over Head Start

June 16, 2005

Camilla- Lucky for the kids in Mitchell County's Head Start program, shooting down the slide is an important part of pre-kindergarten.

The program is in full-swing this summer. It's one of 17 counties served by the Southwest Georgia Community Action Council in Moultrie.

"There's still a great need for Head Start," said Ramona Codling, director of Head Start for the council.

That's why they're taking over Head Start in Dougherty County. The government took control of Dougherty County's program last year when debt almost forced the free pre-kindergarten program in Albany to close.

Dougherty County's Head Start program is funded by a $5 million federal grant. The board responsible for that money relinquished the grant last summer after mismanagement left the program behind with its bills.

Now, the Southwest Georgia Community Action Council hopes to continue putting it back on track.

The Southwest Georgia Community Action Council has a proven record of Head Start success. Last year, they were recognized by the National Head Start Association as a program of achievement, an honor given to only 4 percent of Head Start programs.

Overall, the program will be the same for the students, but the employees will be starting all over.

The change in administration in Albany means all employees have been laid off.

"Many of the employees who are currently there will be hired into our program," said Myrtis Moulkey-Ndawula, executive director of the council. "Not everyone."

Employees who want their jobs back have to reapply.

"This is not just a continuation of an old program," she said. "This is a new program, a new agency, so they become new employees."

Job applications are due Friday, June 17. People can apply at the Southwest Georgia Community Action Council website.

The program day will also be changed to 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon. Dougherty County previously offered full-day services, which, apparently, is one area the former administration overspent. If the new leadership sees a need for all day services in Dougherty, federal grants are available.

"We would have to apply for that grant and show the need and be able to prove that the need is there," Codling said.

Right now, it's more important that Albany Head Start centers will be full of pre-kindergartners beginning August 1st. There is still space available for students. Parents can register at Tift Center on Tift Avenue.

"Our children are out future, so if we don't provide for those formative years then where are we left with."

But when these kids have left the pre-k playground behind, they'll have a head start on their future.

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