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Head Start receives high marks from review team

Dona Ana County Head Start, sponsored by New Mexico State University's College of Education, received a perfect rating in a recent regional federal review.

A 10-member team reviewed more than 800 federal compliance regulations April 10-14, said Mary Jane Embury, Head Start project director.

Reviews take place every three years. The program has been in 100 percent compliance with federal Head Start performance standards for the past four reviews, Embury said.

This year's team included experts in early childhood development and program administration and consultants with expertise in Head Start operations. Team members visited the program's eight classrooms. They observed teachers and children, interviewed parents, staff and members of policy boards, and reviewed how each site is managed.

Head Start is a nationwide program for low-income families that prepares 3- and 4-year- olds for public school. Head Start focuses on education, health and mental health, nutrition, family services, parent involvement and services for children with disabilities.

Dona Ana County Head Start has been serving families since 1984. Program expansion to better meet community needs is a constant objective, Embury said. Head Start has a staff of 56 persons and serves 240 families in Las Cruces, Mesilla, San Miguel, Vado and Anthony.

"We are fortunate to have an experienced classroom staff, managers with expertise and dedicated support staff," Embury said. "Our success also depends on good working relationships with community partners and the support of NMSU."

Rita A. Popp
April 24, 2000