• April 25, 2019

Ribbon cutting set for Early Head Start program - Odessa American: Local News

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Ribbon cutting set for Early Head Start program

Center named for longtime executive director

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Posted: Monday, April 15, 2019 12:33 am

An Early Head Start program, geared for pregnant women to 3-year-olds, has opened in Odessa and a ribbon cutting is set for 3 p.m. April 18.

Called the Betty J. Carter Early Head Start Center it is located at 2445 E. 11th St. and named for Carter, who served Head Start in Odessa for 49 years. Retired in 2015, she now lives in the Dallas area.

Catriva Webbs, executive director of Greater Opportunities of the Permian Basin Inc. Head Start Readiness Academy, said Carter provided greater opportunities — as the name says — for children, families and staff members throughout her career.

Webbs said Carter is expected to attend the ribbon cutting.

The facility, which opened in February, serves 32 with 11 staff members. The site manager is Robin Reeves and the assistant director is Xzynthia Tisby.

Webbs said there already is a waiting list.

Program-wide Early Head Start program serves 92 and 750 Head Start children who are age 3 to 5. Greater Opportunities covers Ector, Howard, Ward and Reeves counties.

“… We conduct an annual community assessment and part of that assessment for years has said that early childhood education services were needed for that age group. We’re happy to be able to provide some of those services, but for sure at this point in time where we are in this West Texas community and environment, we definitely have more need than we have services,” Webbs said.

“… It affects every area when you don’t have enough quality and appropriate child care,” she added.

There are many requirements for acceptance to the Head Start program, but there is no charge. It is federally funded.

“… It’s a point system, basically, so there’s a host of boxes to check that will determine the number of points at the end of the application process,” Webbs said.

Early Head Start uses research-based curriculum. The day lasts from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes breakfast, lunch and a snack.

“… Everything is done with a purpose and the purpose, of course, of social and emotional development for school readiness,” Webbs said.

“We use Healthy Baby curriculum we use Creative Curriculum and those things are all centered on the … needs (of) the kids which absolutely includes reading, lots of reading to them with theatrics and feeling,” Webbs said.

She added that there are books to teach children to understand their feelings and at some point later when it’s appropriate in Head Start, they learn to self-regulate their feelings.

“What it looks like for pregnant women, they have the same application process, and so if they’re enrolled in the program while they're pregnant, we’ve got a curriculum in place where they’ll come to the center, we’ll make home visits and go over what is required to ensure a healthy delivery. We talk about breast feeding and prenatal care, ensure that they have a medical home; things like that. It’s the same thing we would do for any other families, specific to the needs of a pregnant mom up to delivery,” Webbs said.

Webbs said she is looking forward to the ribbon cutting.

“It was something we wanted to make sure we did once the service was up and running. The priority was to get the services up and running,” Webbs said.

Another exciting part of the festivities was being able to have Carter on hand.

“I’m one of those many people in the community that received a greater opportunity from her, as well. I’m a Head Start kid. I attended Chaffin Head Start over on South Grant and then I came to work here for Ms. Carter in 2012 as the finance and human resources manager,” Webbs said.

Reeves, the site manager for the Carter Center, said she has worked with children of all ages for 20 years. To her, it’s not a job.

“… I am actually born and raised here. I’m a graduate from OHS. I married military and went to work for the Head Start in Dallas in ‘99-2000 and then I came back,” Reeves said.

She noted that Early Head Start and Head Start are year-round programs.

Reeves said they accept applications five days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The Carter center may be reached at 332-8588.

Odessa, TX

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