$13M awarded to Head Starts at 10 area school districts

The Hidalgo County Head Start Program will have over $13 million in federal funding at its disposal toward helping children in the area in 2020, according to a statement released by U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez’s office Thursday.

A federal program dedicated to the economic and social well-being of the children and families in the Rio Grande Valley, Head Start operations at several Hidalgo County districts are expected to benefit from the $13,856,191, specifically by promoting school readiness for pre-school children from low-income families by providing safety, education and healthy development through strong community support.

“The future of our nation depends on the education we provide to our children,” Gonzalez wrote in the statement. “Programs like Head Start help foster academic excellence at the onset and benefits families in the 15th District of Texas and across the nation. I will continue to support high quality education programs that enable children in low-income communities to fulfill their academic potential.”

Hidalgo County Head Start Program Executive Director Teresa Flores said the grant will aid 10 districts, including Edinburg, McAllen, Mission, La Joya, Edcouch-Elsa, Monte Alto, Weslaco, Progreso, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo and Mercedes schools.

“We are very excited that our Non-Competitive Continuation Application for our three and four year old children has been approved for 2020. This funding will ensure that our comprehensive services to all 3,690 children and their families will continue uninterrupted,” she wrote in the release.

Flores said the funds will aid students with dual enrollment.

“This arrangement ensures that the districts will provide a certified early childhood teacher for a full day or half day assignment,” she wrote. “We are very grateful to Congressman Vicente Gonzalez for his support of our program and for the forthcoming increase in funding in the near future.”

Maricela Cortez, early childhood director with PSJA, says she’s pleased to see funding being dedicated to the program.

“We’re very excited, very excited that this is continuing,” she said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to provide a high quality education.”

Cortez says PSJA was an early adopter of the program and that she’s seen the impact it has on the district’s students.

“We see the gains when children have attended Head Start,” she said. “We see large gains in vocabulary development; they get the opportunity to receive an education instead of just being at home.”

mwilson@themonitor.com