By LAURA MILOSER
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- The Lawrence County Head Start program is branching out to reach more preschool-age children throughout the county.
This school year Head Start will begin programs approved by the Mohawk and Wilmington Area school districts.
Head Start is a preschool program for children 3 to 5 who are one to two years away from kindergarten eligibility. The program accepts applications throughout the year.
There are 429 pupils enrolled in the program. Ninety percent of the pupils need to meet federal poverty guidelines. A family of four cannot exceed a yearly income of $19,000 to qualify.
The largest Head Start facility houses 12 classrooms on the south side of New Castle. Classes are also available at Villa Maria off U.S. Route 422 in the western part of the county, and Ellwood City Borough in the southern part of the county.
A partnership also is shared with the Learning Tree Child Care Center.
Director Betsy Spango said that by adding Mohawk and Wilmington school districts, the program is trying to branch out into the community. "The new programs will better help families and children to transition into school by helping to connect them to their community and their school," Spango said.
She said it was necessary to branch out. Although Head Start provides busing, state law permits preschool-age children to remain on a bus for less than one hour.
The Wilmington School District will try a home-based program. A Head Start representative will visit the homes once a week to teach a parent how to teach their preschool children.
Spango says the home-based group plans to meet once or twice each month for field trips and social time at East Lawrence School.