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Democrat Photo by John Emerson

CHECKING THINGS OUT: As two-year-old Everett Nolan investigates his surroundings, mom Venus, left, and Chyrise Taylor supervise his activities inside the new Early Head Start Program’s room in the Head Start building in Woodbourne. Taylor is the program director.

Early Head Start Program Debuts

By John Emerson
WOODBOURNE — July 4, 2000 -- Everett Nolan walked into the room tentatively, clutching his mother’s hand and casting his eyes left and right until they came upon a bucket filled with shapes in a rainbow of colors. At that moment, he dropped his mother’s hand, dashed to the shelves that held the treasure, removed it and sat in one of the chairs at a nearby table. He was ready.
Everett, 2, was one of several children present last Thursday at the unveiling of the Early Head Start Program’s care center in Woodbourne.
The program is designed to give infants and toddlers between six weeks and three years old a stimulating and enriching atmosphere. At the same time, the program works with the child’s parents, training them to provide enhanced parenting skills and a better understanding of their child’s needs for growth and development.
“In recent years, they’ve done a lot of studies on how children learn and discovered that they start learning as soon as they are born,” said Bertha Williams, Sullivan County Head Start’s executive director. “Our Early Head Start program is going to let us serve 40 infants and toddlers and 16 pregnant women and give them a chance to grow right from the start. It’s never too early.”
The program had been in development for more than two years. Williams said one of the key elements of the project was the yearlong renovation work, which transformed the basement gymnasium at Head Start’s administrative building in Woodbourne into the care center.
“They had to raise the floor of the basement to ground level so that there weren’t any steps leading in or out,” she said. “They also had to put three sinks in each room so that there was one where the children could wash up, one for cleaning up dirty diapers and one for food.”
Once the center is officially opened and children are present, visitors will be met at the door with booties to cover their shoes so floors stay clean throughout the center.
“We’re going to have a lot of kids crawling all over the place in here, so we have to keep it clean,” she said.
The children will be segregated into four different rooms depending on their age. Three of the brightly-lit care rooms are interchangeable so that they can expand or contract depending on the ages of the children.
The fourth room, the toddler room for children between 18 months and three years old, will remain the same because the outside entrance has a step. The other three rooms lead directly outside at ground level.
Program manager Chyrise Taylor hopes to have the center filled with children within the next two weeks. She said that a representative from the state Department of Family Services, which is responsible for licensing care centers, assured her at the open house that a license would be issued soon.
“I was hoping that she might bring it with her [to the open house],” Taylor said. “Instead, she told me that everything was in order and we should be getting it or hearing from her within the next week. I’m really excited.”
Anyone interested in enrolling in the program should contact Sullivan County Head Start, Inc. at 434-4164.

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