USD Head Start is a free program open to families with children ages three through five who live in the Dakota Valley School District. This year, USD Head Start will offer extended services thanks in part to a $272,000 grant from the Office of Head Start.

“The impact of this grant is far reaching for our staff, families and the community as a whole. We will be meeting the needs of young children according to what research shows is best for early learning,” said Carmen Stewart, director of USD Head Start.

Extended services include expanded six-hour instruction for five-days-a-week at the Dakota Valley classroom and two other sites. The grant also allowed the program to hire three additional staffers while providing full-time jobs and benefits to a number of current part-time staff.

“Strong and mounting evidence from research tells us when children attend high quality programs for more days and longer hours, they are better prepared for school and have improved outcomes. We are pleased congress has appropriated these funds for young children served by the Head Start program,” said Linda Smith, deputy assistant secretary of early childhood development at the Administration for Children and Families.

It is the 40th anniversary of the University of South Dakota’s sponsorship of the Head Start grant for programming. Families participating in Head Start receive comprehensive services including, education, family support, nutrition, health, dental, and mental health. Additional services in Union County includes the Early Head Start in-home educational program for expectant parents and families with children from birth to age three. USD Head Start serves Clay, Lincoln, Union and Turner counties in Southeast South Dakota.

To register, parents may call the USD Head Start office at 800-813-8132 or visit the Head Start website to download an application,

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