Recruitment open for Petal Early Learning Collaborative programs

By HASKEL BURNS,

Recruitment is underway for the Petal Early Learning Collaborative classes, a voluntary free Pre-K program that provides openings for 80 children each year.

The early learning collaborative is made up of four Pre-K classes for 4-year-old children: three at the Charles Johnson Head Start Center and one at Petal Primary School. Each class supports 20 children.

“There’s tons of research that supports the importance of early learning, right from birth,” said Dede Smith, assistant superintendent of the Petal School District. “And so this gives us an opportunity to impact these children even before they get into our public school setting, as far as being in kindergarten.

“Our children have been very successful, and we feel certain that being one of the early learning collaboratives in our state plays a huge part in our success. In addition, we anticipate that these children will continue to build on this foundation already built by quality early childhood learning experiences.”

To be eligible for the Pre-K class at Petal Primary School, parents must contact the Charles Johnson Head Start Center at (769) 223-6473 or stop by the office at 201 West Central Ave. between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Officials will then send a letter to parents notifying them if their children have been approved. Twenty names will then be randomly selected no later than July 15 to determine which children will attend the primary school class, at which point those childrens’ parents will be notified by phone.

The remaining 60 children will attend Pre-K at the Charles Johnson Head Start Center.

Parents are asked to provide the following items:

• Child’s birth certificate

• Copy of income verification for 2017 (W2, tax return, child support, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, VA benefits, etc.)

• Insurance information, if applicable

• Mississippi 121 immunization form

• Child’s Medicaid card, if applicable

• Proof of guardianship, if applicable

• School or work schedule (for Early Head Start only)

The Petal Early Collaborative is a partnership between the Petal School District and Pearl River Valley Opportunity Head Start. The program is funded by the Mississippi Early Learning Act of 2013 and is administered by the Mississippi Department of Education.

Eligibility for the program is based on federal income guidelines and policies. Homeless families, foster children and children with severe disabilities are encouraged to apply.

“It’s very important for us to plug in our Pre-K students, for those parents that want them to be involved in a program,” said Matt Dillon, superintendent of the Petal School District. “So it’s important for them to sign up as early as possible, so it gives us an idea of the number of students that we’re working with and the slots that we have available for our Pre-K program through our collaborative.”

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