Agency celebrates Children’s Week
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.