Head Start students eating lunch

Family Services Head Start has received grants totaling $543,982 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support Head Start services this summer to low-income children under the age of 5 in Forsyth County and to fund one-time actions or activities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.

Sarah Y. Austin Head Start Center Director Shelby Moody said the summer programs are designed to help Head Start children catch up on some of the important learning experiences they may have missed when school was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We just want to make sure that when they transition to Kindergarten, that they’re ready,” Moody said.

The local funds were part of $750 million designated for Head Start programs across the nation to support preventative, preparedness, and response activities related to the coronavirus through the CARES Act. To support low-income children who have experienced a disruption of services during this time, programs will provide supplemental summer Head Start programs as they are able.

Family Services Head Start summer programs will provide a full range of comprehensive services to the extent possible, with a focus on preparing children for the coming school year, according to Family Services Child Development Division Director Vivien Stearns.

“The Head Start summer program will provide a social and emotionally supportive learning environment and consistent daily routines to children who are entering kindergarten in the fall,” Stearns said. “It will also support children in getting up to date on the medical, dental, and other follow-up services they need to succeed in school.”

Family Services President and CEO Bob Feikema said the CARES Act funding helped provide critical support to enrolled children and families.

“During this crisis, we have been able to provide crisis response to our Head Start families, including meals, mental wellness support, and connection to community resources,” Feikema said. “We have also trained all of our staff in infectious disease management as we prepare to reopen our classrooms in the fall. The health and safety of each child in our care is our highest priority.”