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Early Childhood

EXCEL by 5 is a certification process for early childhood education that is organized to help communities support young children and their families so that all children will be ready to learn when they start school. The program establishes standards for parental training, community participation, child care standards, and health care standards. The certification process also identifies available resources and existing best practices. Indianola achieved Excel by 5 recognition in 2015.

Strengthening Childcare Centers is a program in partnership with the Mississippi Low Income Childcare Initiative (MLICCI) and five of the childcare centers in Indianola in which IPC coordinates the implementation of common curricula and assessments among the centers. Both the academic curricula and assessments are aligned with what is used by the school system, Head Start, and the newly formed Pre-K program. This approach ensures that children are becoming
better prepared to enter kindergarten.

Delta Parents as Teachers (Delta PAT) is part of our Delta Home Visiting Initiative and provides parents of children zero to five years old with child development and parenting support through home visits, health, hearing and vision screenings, parent group meetings, and access to resource networks. Utilizing women recruited from the local community and trained as outreach workers, Delta PAT provides visits to pregnant women and families with young children in their home to promote healthy living. Leading by example, they listen to parents’ concerns, educate them about nutrition, health and children’s development, model positive parenting practices, and provide assistance linking to social services.

Small World is an intensive summer session providing preparation for three-year-old children who will be entering Head Start in the fall. Participants are introduced to self-help skills and are assessed by providing a way for teachers to observe progress and accomplishments through ongoing assessment. The program has averaged 80 participants each summer.

Supporting Parents to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK) is an intervention program for children three years old to third grade that provides in-school sessions for students and home sessions for parents that addresses specific deficiencies in the cognitive development of children. The program focuses communication deficiencies like speech or vocabulary deficiencies.

Kindergarten students are assessed three times a year and based on results from these assessments the children are provided with appropriate assistance and remediation to help them succeed in school. Over 180 children were part of the program in 2015, and since October 2014, SPARK advocates have conducted more than 860 home visits and 3,300 school visits.