- About Us
New Head Start program to open at Jenkins Creek
The Head Start program, which serves children ages three through five years old who come from low income families, focuses on helping kids be ready for kindergarten.
This year will mark the first time Head Start and ECEAP programs are back in Kent schools since community agencies took over operating the programs, which used to be run by the schools until a levy was passed that reduced class sizes and meant that the schools didn’t have the space to run the preschools, according to Theresa LaRonde, the Head Start and ECEAP program director for KYFS.
“We’ve always had, in South King County, a really high unmet need,” LaRonde said. “A lot of kids that are eligible but don’t receive service because we fill up.”
LaRonde said that the programs’ priorities are meeting the needs of low income families. She explained that priority goes to children who are homeless, foster kids, or have IEPs. LaRonde said that every application receives a point total and the kids with the most points are enrolled in the program.
Jenkins Creek will be home to four classes of 19 students with two morning and two afternoon classes.
“In the past the families from (the) Covington area have been transported, bused, to our Kent Family Center location in the Birch Creek public housing,” LaRonde said. “So our big building is out there, but it’s a substantial bus ride, so we might as well cut down on having to do that.”
LaRonde also pointed out that having students from the Covington area at Jenkins Creek will allow more students to be served through freeing up space at the Kent Family Center. The classes at Jenkins Creek will be funded through the Head Start program, preschool that is funded by the federal government. LaRonde explained that ECEAP is essentially the same thing but it is state funded.
“When the state received Head Start slots, or funding for slots, the state determined that it wasn’t filling the need of the state so they put extra money in and started the ECEAP, and that’s through the department of Early Learning,” LaRonde said.
The program at Jenkins Creek will focus on preparing students to be school ready, as well as on nutrition and health.
“And then we have a family support staff person that works with the families and helps the families with resources and setting goals from themselves and helping support them attaining their goals,” LaRonde said.
She also said that they are looking forward to partnering with the district at Jenkins Creek.
“We’re very excited,” Jenkins Creek Principal Cathy Lendosky said. “We’ve made a lot of moves around the building to get everything to work and get everything to fit and have it be wonderful.”
In addition to the child piece, the program also works with families to help them achieve their goals, LaRonde said.
“One of the things I pride myself in is that I have parents that volunteer in the classroom and then they may become a bus monitor and they like it and they may become an assistant teacher and teacher,” LaRonde said. “About 50 percent of my staff are past parents, and I think (that) speaks to the program.”
Parents who are interested in the Head Start and ECEAP programs can contact Kent Youth and Family Services, located at 13111 SE 274th Street in Kent, or at 253-630-9590 for an application or pick up an application at Jenkins Creek.