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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on June 14th, 2011, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 12, Issue 15 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 12, Issue 15

Low-income families get a 'Head Start'


On June 24, the Community Action Committee (CAC) of Santa Barbara County will hold its first-ever educational forum, which will be open to the public, at 9:30 a.m. at the Goleta Public Library and 3 p.m. at the Souza Center in Santa Maria.

This forum will discuss the results of the Head Start preschool program, a federally designed academic program for children from low-income families. These children, primarily from families earning less than $22,000 a year, are at a higher risk of starting school behind their classmates academically and dropping out of school in the future.

 Among its many services, Head Start offers programs that focus on nutrition and family support, as well as early childhood education. Head Start’s teaching model is built on parent participation in the classroom and providing such programs as English as a second language to students’ families.

The UC Santa Barbara Gervitz Graduate School of Education observed that 81 percent of the children enrolled in the Head Start program were in the top two Kindergarten Student Entrance Profile levels in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District. These students also exhibited significant gains in cognitive and numeric knowledge and advances in vocabulary.

By sharing these results, the CAC hopes to strengthen and enrich other educational programs in Santa Barbara County.

“Together, we are truly transforming the futures of many of Santa Barbara’s high needs children and families,” Mattie Gadsby, CAC Children’s services director, said in a press release. “We are excited to share this research with educational professionals and interested community members.”

The CAC, the county’s largest private, nonprofit social service agency, has partnered with the Gervitz School of Education and participating Santa Barbara County school districts to bring the Head Start program to Santa Barbara County schools.

When asked about the future of the Head Start program, CAC Executive Director Fran Forman said she has big plans in mind: “We’re working with more than 1,000 kids, but there are some children on the waiting list that never make it to Head Start, and we’d like to serve more of them.”

Intern Malory Ensor compiled this week’s Community Corner. Send comments or ideas to the Sun via e-mail at

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