In New Haven, Head Start Hits the Road

Recruiting from a Big Yellow Bus
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Recruiting from a Big Yellow Bus

An early education program in New Haven reaches more than 800 families in the city each year. The Head Start program hit the road this week, looking to recruit a few more.

Outside a Stop and Shop grocery store on Whalley Avenue in New Haven, Damaris Rodriguez is walking a parent through how to register her three year old for the New Haven Public Schools Head Start program.

"You're going to need the child's birth certificate long form, proof of residence, a utility bill or a lease in your name or your husband's name."

Rodriguez and other Head Start workers are touring the city in a big yellow school bus, looking to fill 70 remaining slots for the upcoming school year.

"We're taking the show on the road. We're going to every neighborhood, we're going to every site, and we're meeting parents where they're at," says Keith Young. He's another member of Head Start's mobile crew.

"We know how important it is for children of low income families to get this education, to get this quote unquote head start."

Head Start program in 1965, targeting kids ages 3 to 5 with nutritional, health and social services. Young says it readies kids for school by socializing them, getting them used to being supervised by different adults, and involving their parents in the education process. It's not just the ABC's and 123s, he says.

But the program is federally funded. And the recent debt ceiling deal has some education advocates worried about the impact on programs like Head Start. Though it's still unclear what specific cuts will be made, the Committee for Education Funding estimates a 3 billion dollar decrease in federal education funding.

Deborah Lawson oversees recruitment for the Head Start program. She says she's not sure what will happen in the future, but that at least for the upcoming year, Head Start spots are guaranteed.