Head Start/Early Head Start - SMILE Community Action Agency
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Head Start/Early Head Start

Mary Russell Cobb, Director of Head Start/Early Head Start

Ph: (337) 658-1269 Ext. 244

The Head Start and Early Head Start programs, which are headed by the Director of Head Start/Early Head Start, provide preschool services to 1,492 families in the tri-parish region of St. Martin, Iberia and Lafayette.

The Director is supervised by the Chief Executive Officer.

As a federally-funded child development program, SMILE’s Head Start provides comprehensive educational, social, health/mental health, nutritional, disability, and transitional and technical assistance services to help children attain their full potential. Head Start serves 1,228 children.

SMILE’s Early Head Start program serves 264 children, including infants, toddlers and pregnant women.

The programs require that at least 90 percent of the children must be from families whose income falls below the federal poverty level. The remaining 10 percent can be from families above the poverty level. The program also requires that at least 10 percent of the children served must be disabled.

One of the greatest strengths of Head Start and Early Head Start is the parent involvement component. As the primary nurturer and educator of their children, parents have a right and an obligation to fully participate in all aspects of Head Start operations. Not only are parents encouraged to volunteer in their children’s classrooms, but they are also encouraged to become involved in the Parent Center Committees and the Head Start/Early Head Start Policy Council.

The Head Start/Early Head Start Policy Council — composed of community leaders and parents — serves as the guiding force. As a governing body, it works in conjunction with the Agency’s Board of Directors.

SMILE’s Head Start/Early Head Start programs have served as a model for others. Its collaboration with the Louisiana Technical College resulted in an Early Head Start Center on the Acadiana Campus in Lafayette. As a result, LTC students undergoing early childhood education were able to receive hands-on training at the Center.

SMILE has also collaborated with Southern University in Baton Rouge to create a social service degree program to enhance staff development.

Smile Community Action