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Riverbend Head Start & Family Services to open Bethalto center

BETHALTO – Riverbend Head Start & Family Services is adding a sixth Head Start center to help families prepare children for kindergarten in the public schools.

Bethalto Head StartPresident and Chief Executive Officer Chuck Parr signed an agreement in August to license space at the Simpson Achievement Center from the Bethalto Community Unit School District 8. The 6,500-square-foot building at 225 James St. (shown at left) will need renovations to meet Head Start standards and Illinois Department of Children and Family Services licensing requirements.

Bethalto Head Start at the Simpson Achievement Center will open with one classroom in use which will have a morning and afternoon session.

“We have previously served the Bethalto community through our home visiting program operated out of the Essic Robinson Center in Alton,” Parr said this week. “We are excited to have a physical presence in this community and to expand our services.”

The building is expected to open in February 2015. The agency is now enrolling students to begin in the home visiting program in November. Once the building has been licensed, the preschool-aged children will transition to the center.

“We wanted to come up with a way to start serving more Bethalto families as soon as possible, so that is why we are beginning by expanding our home visiting program. When the building is ready, the preschoolers will then be the first students at our new Bethalto Head Start,” said Parr.

The center will also include a new playground, a socialization room for infants and toddlers and a kitchen. There will also be a second classroom constructed to allow for future expansion.

Families in Madison County qualify for Riverbend Head Start’s programs if they are pregnant or have children between the ages of birth through five. They live below the federal poverty level which is $23,850 for a family of four and $19,790 for a family of three.

“Children who live in poverty are at-risk of not being on the same level as their peers when they go to kindergarten. We are working to reverse that statistic by providing an early childhood education program and also working with the families to address challenges at home to strengthen the entire family,” said Parr.

Riverbend Head Start is accepting applications for the Bethalto Head Start at the Simpson Achievement Center. To enroll, call (618) 717-0625.

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