DUNCAN, Okla._It is that time of the year again, time to get children enrolled in school, including early childhood educational programs.
Delta Head Start is taking applications for their 3- and 4-year-old program that begins on August 20. In Oklahoma, more than 13,000 children were enrolled in Head Start last year alone. The federally funded program is free to low-income families locally in Duncan, Marlow and Comanche.
Some of the basics children enrolled in the program learn include how to draw shapes and how to count. But teachers say there are so many more things these children and their families can take away from the experience.
Head Start center director Judy Tidwell has been working with Head Start Programs for the last 27 years. She says social skills are among the most important things kids learn.
"Which is a big key. Social skills for children to learn to work together and play together. Playing is learning," Tidwell said.
Tidwell says the need for early childhood education has changed over the years.
"I have seen the difference in families. Families having to work more, both parents having to work, single parents, teenage pregnancy. They just need that head start to better themselves," Tidwell said.
Tidwell says they not only help the children better themselves, but they can also assist the entire family giving them names of local assistance programs.
"Sometimes, if they have issues paying their bills, they don't know where to go. Well, we have those resources that we can tell them and assist them where to go and get help," Tidwell explained.
Tidwell says they have seen positive outcomes with young mothers who enroll their children in the Early Head Start Program that serves children six weeks to five years old.
"With our families, with our teenage pregnancies that the mothers finished high school and they went on to college. That they have went on and made a success to better them and their children's lives," Tidwell said.
Tidwell says she enjoys watching the children and their families grow up, ultimately changing their lives.
"I think my favorite part is when I see a family succeed and you know you have been a part of it. That they are not that person they were before when they walked in that door the first time," Tidwell said.
If you would like to enroll your child in Delta Head Start, you'll need to bring their birth certificate, shot records and proof of income.