Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Agency celebrates Children’s Week

- By Eplunus Colvin

A sweet sound of laughter and cheer could be heard as Pine Bluff’s Community Services Office, which serves Early Head Start and Head Start families with young children, celebrated Arkansas Children’s Week on Thursday.

Families and their children from Pine Bluff Jefferson County Head Start/ Early Head Start Centers enjoyed the day with their teachers, faculty, staff and community guests at St. Peter’s Head Start located at 1515 State St., one of the three Head Start facilities. The day was used to recognize the needs of young children and thank educators and others involved in the education and care of young children.

“Here at Community Services Office we serve Early Head Start and Head Start families with children ranging ages six weeks to five years old under the leadership of our executive director, Mrs. Leslie Paschal-Barnes,” said Kimberly Johnson, program manager for Community Services Office of Pine Bluff. “We are trying to keep the parents encouraged because we’ve been going through a lot with the pandemic and a lot of the parents are afraid to let their children come on-site to school.”

Parents enjoyed the activities for their children with this year’s theme of Make Amazing Things Happen (MATH).

“We are focusing on the vital role that math plays in our everyday lives and considerin­g ways that adults can support mathematic­al thinking,” said Johnson.

From the Mayor’s Office to the Pine Bluff Fire and Police Department, many partners collaborat­ed to make the event possible, even busting dance moves with the children.

“I have truly been touched, not by only what I have seen but also by what I have felt,” said Mayor Shirley Washington, who saluted the organizers of the event.

Washington, who danced with some of the children, also compliment­ed the well-mannered children and said that showed her that good things were happening in their lives, which she said she felt was important as the first step in saving the community’s youth.

“We cannot save our community if we don’t first save our children,” said Washington, who thanked the staff for their care, the concern and the good training instilled in the youngsters. “None of that can happen without the parents.”

Washington explained how being on time and instilling discipline starts at home, and what children pick up will carry over to the school and, one day, their job.

“They have to know that when they get on that job, there’s a proper way to conduct yourself and we call that having good behavior,” said Washington. “We’re having trouble in Pine Bluff right now on the workforce, finding people who will report to work on time.”

Washington also added that the city was having trouble finding people who weren’t on drugs.

“If our kids are embraced with the proper love and support from the cradle all the way through 13, 14, 15,16 and 17, all the way up, they’ll know where their focus should be—keeping their mind, their body and their character clean,” said Washington. “… and it all starts right here.”

The overall goal of the CSO Head Start Program is to bring about a greater degree of social competence in young children. Social competence refers to the child’s everyday effectiven­ess in dealing with both his or her

present environmen­t and later responsibi­lities in school and life.

According to CSO, it considers the interrelat­edness of cognitive and intellectu­al developmen­t, physical and mental health, and nutritiona­l needs.

“Early learning experience­s are crucial to the growth and developmen­t of young children,” said JoAnn Nalley, executive director of A-State Childhood Services, in a press release. “Arkansas Children’s Week provides opportunit­ies for all of us to recognize the importance of early learning and relationsh­ips.”

Johnson said they are currently recruiting for student enrollment and staff. Early Head Start serves children from birth to three-years-old. Head Start serves children ages three to five-years-old.

Johnson thanked her staff for their hard work and dedication and said nothing would be possible without them.

Her staff includes : ■ Executive director- Leslie Paschal Barnes

■ Head Start/ Early Head Start director- Mary Jean Daniel

■ Program manager- Kimberly Johnson

■ Human resource director-Tamerdis Baker

■ Human resource specialist-Leslie Broughton

■ ERSEA coordinato­r- Vivian Eaton

■ Compliance- Brainard Bivens

■ Family service workersEri­ca Akins, Zeakeal Griffin, Rolonda Murry

■ Education coordinato­r Ans heka Nelson

■ Education coach- Elizabeth Miller, Shawneese Singleton

She also praised her nutrition staff, security, mental health disability coordinato­r, maintenanc­e and the Head Start and Early Head Start teachers.

Between St. Peters, David Vaughn located at 2101 West 11th Ave., and Blake Street located at 308 South Black, a total of 319 children are served.

For more informatio­n on enrollment or employment, contact Kimberly Johnson at (501) 701-0186.

 ?? (Pine Bluff Commercial/Eplunus Colvin) ?? Mayor Shirley Washington shows that she can bust a move Thursday with Head Start students during an Arkansas Children’s Week celebratio­n.
(Pine Bluff Commercial/Eplunus Colvin) Mayor Shirley Washington shows that she can bust a move Thursday with Head Start students during an Arkansas Children’s Week celebratio­n.

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