Parents of children ages four and under have a unique opportunity to learn about and take advantage of Webster Ready Start during a pair of informational events slated for March 17th and the 24th.
Webster Ready Start Network’s goal is to see all Webster Parish children enter school ready for kindergarten.
“We are hosting a registration event for the 2023-24 school year at the Recreation Center in Minden on March 17thfrom 9 am to 2 pm and at the RV Center in Springhill on March 24th from 9 am to 2 pm,” said Olivia Sebald, who serves as Webster Ready Start Network’s Community Liaison.
Sebald said caregivers for children ages zero to four will be able to register for the early childhood education program that best fits their needs.
“Parents will be able to choose from eight Early Learning Centers that serve ages birth to four years old, three Head Start Centers that serve ages 18 months to four years old, and five Webster Parish Preschool locations that serve four year olds (must turn four by September 30th),” she said. “Parents will have a chance to talk to representatives from each program and complete all necessary steps to register their child for next year.”
What kind of events will happen?
While the parents are completing the registration steps, the children will have a chance to enjoy a game area and photo booth. Webster Parish Libraries will also be present with a craft for the kids to complete and take home. The Health Unit will be checking shot records and making appointments as necessary. And the Louisiana Department of Health will also be at both events to assist parents with any Medicaid needs. Every child will leave with a goody bag and book. There will also be door prizes.
What do parents need to bring?
Child’s birth certificate, social security card, and updated shot record, parent’s driver’s license, 2 current proofs of residence (utilities/mortgage/lease), 2 current consecutive paychecks for each adult in the household, SNAP, Medicaid or DCFS if applies.
For the Future
Seabald cited research that indicates 90 percent of the human brain is fully developed by the age of five.
“This means that before a child ever begins school, the neural networks necessary for learning and retaining information have already been formed,” she continued. “The quality of these pathways is influenced by experiences the child has during those critical, early years. Positive interactions, mirroring, exposure to language, and many other factors can influence brain development.”
To address this, Webster Ready Start Network provides all program partners with tier one curriculum and materials, professional development, and support so that children enrolled in any of these programs are receiving the high quality early education and care they need to be successful in school and life.
“We realize for some families, spending those early years at home with a parent may be the best option,” Seabald said. “To reach and support these families, we are partnering with the Webster Parish Libraries to host events providing parents with literacy resources and encouraging parents to begin reading to their children at birth.”
For most families in Webster Parish childcare is a necessity, but parents face the challenge of finding an available seat and affording it, especially for ages birth to three.
“The network is working to increase the access our families have to high quality early education by working with our programs to increase seats through expansion, inviting existing centers to join us, and providing scholarships to qualifying families (those who were below the applicable income and work or attend school full time),” she said. “For the past few years, we have been able to use state funding to provide these scholarships, however, that funding program will be ending. The state is instead offering a dollar-to-dollar match for any local funding we receive from businesses, local government agencies, organizations, and individuals.”
Webster Ready Start is working with the Community Foundation of North Louisiana to launch a fundraising campaign soon in hopes of being able to continue to support these families and allow these parents to remain in the workforce.
If anyone is interested in contributing to the scholarship fund, they would love to share more details. Please email email@example.com.
Webster Ready Start Network office is located in the Parent Center at J.A. Phillips Elementary under the supervision of Casey Fields, WPSB Early Childhood Facilitator and Janene Corley, WPSB Early Childhood Supervisor. Please reach out to them with any questions.
Their website is www.websterreadystart.com
Their phone is 318-377-3099.
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