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Head Start ramps up services, getting help with grant

Alton-based Riverbend Head Start and Family Services is slated to receive $686,894 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The funds will support Head Start services to low-income children under the age of 5 in Madison County.

Nationally, $750 million has been designated for Head Start programs to support preventative, preparedness, and response activities related to the coronavirus through the CARES Act. To support low-income children who have experienced a disruption of services during this time, programs will provide supplemental summer Head Start programs as they are able. Funds will be released directly to all 1,600 local Head Start and Early Head Start programs, including tribal programs, in every state and territory beginning this week.

The Riverbend Head Start and Family Services program plans to use the CARES Act funding to provide critical support to enrolled children and families.

“During this crisis, we have been able to provide crisis response to our Head Start families, including education supplies, diapers, formula, meals, mental wellness support, and connection to community resources,” said Gene Howell, president and CEO of Riverbend Head Start and Family Services.

Since the pandemic, Riverbend Head Start and Family Services has scaled up its capacity to offer a virtual program experience while in-person services were not an option. As the agency prepares to reunite staff and students, it will continue over the summer to provide support and resources to children and their families in various ways. Currently, the agency is working to determine how they will best be able to support children and families get up to date on the medical, dental, and other follow-up services they need to succeed this coming school year.

“The health and safety of each child in our care is our highest priority,” said Howell. “We also provide training to our staff in infectious disease management and have implemented a round the clock sanitizing, disinfecting and cleaning schedule as we prepare to reopen our programming in the fall.”

Learn more about Riverbend Head Start and Family Services at Follow us on Facebook at

Riverbend Head Start and Family Services is currently recruiting children and families for fall enrollment. Contact us at (618) 463-5950.

Find additional information about Head Start programming specific to this public health crisis on the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center website:

PHOTO: More than 300 preschool children that completed Riverbend Head Start and Family Service’s preschool program during the pandemic. They continued to learn with virtual classrooms and are set to attend kindergarten this fall. Photographed are just a few of the children after staff recognized their achievements with yard signs.


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