Sunflower Early Headstart
After receiving a multi-million-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, DHA worked with six child care centers in Sunflower County, along with other community partners, to create the Sunflower Childcare Coalition and operate a system of private day care centers that meet Early Head Start standards.
Today, these child care centers in Drew, Indianola, and Moorhead enroll 200 children, age 0-3 years old, an increase of 51% since 2015. More than 50 full-time teaching staff attend to the young children in renovated and upgraded facilities. Assessments over the course of the 2016-2017 school year indicated gains in key areas of development from 39 to 45 percent.
Each childcare center uses a standardized curriculum designed to ensure students are ready for kindergarten. A comprehensive teacher and staff development program is designed to refine and update classroom skills. Moreover, the centers coordinate health and nutritional services, including vision, oral and health screenings.
A separate initiative works with parents to ensure their involvement in the education of their children every step of the way. This collaborative program uses local partners, community leaders, and state agencies to help the childcare facilities and affiliated services work in a coordinated fashion.
Finally, performance measures have been established to ensure that each center meets academic and developmental benchmarks for the children enrolled in its program.