CUSTER COUNTY–For several decades the Head Start program has aimed to provide early childhood education, health, nutrition, and social services for local low-income children and families across the United States.
Head Start was created in the 1960s by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the heart of the Civil Rights Movement and the War on Poverty and the premise remains the same years later according to Custer County Head Start employee Lorna Vincent: Every child–regardless of circumstances at birth–has the ability to reach his/her full potential.
“The Head Start Program itself was created by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 to provide comprehensive health, nutrition, and educational opportunities for children and families across the United States,” Vincent said.
October is Head Start Awareness Month and Center-Based Home Visitor Lorna Vincent of Broken Bow spoke to KCNI/KBBN about Custer County’s Early Head Start Program which focuses on services for families and children ages 6 weeks through 3 years (for the center-based program).
According to Vincent, parent involvement, home visits, curriculum, and providing diapers, wipes, baby food/formula during the day can help families reach their goals. Vincent said the Custer County Early Head Start Program—which falls under the umbrella of the Central Nebraska Community Action Partnership—provides daycare services free of charge to families following an income-based application process.
The Broken Bow center for Early Head Start is located at 924 E South E Street and only had to close for one month during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Vincent said there were challenges but the office was able to secure additional funds in order to keep serving families.
“Our program actually did close for a month here in town but we were still able to provide diapers, wipes, formula, educational activities, and books for our families,” Vincent said, adding that care packages with cleaning and hygiene products and food boxes were also provided.
As Head Start Celebrates Awareness month, Vincent said she wants the family programs to be celebrated and for the public to spread the word and consider donating to the organization.
“It all gets put back into the community so your time, your effort, and your money is always staying right here to help people here who need it. It’s not going to some big corporation,” Vincent said.
The center has been hosting a spirit week for children and staff to dress up each day and will also be hosting a Drive Through Trick or Treat on Friday, October 30 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Early Head Start Center at 924 East South E next door to the Tumbleweed Café. The public is invited to drive through the parking lot and get a treat bag.
Central Nebraska Community Action Partnership’s Early Head Start Programs in Custer County-Broken Bow are currently taking applications to enroll children into both the Center Based and Home Based Programs. The ages for enrollment are 6 weeks to 3 years for the Center Based Program and for the Home Based program, the ages are prenatal to 3 years. If you would like more information or would like to fill out an application, please call 308-872-6540.