Tahlequah Daily Press

Z_CNHI News Service

July 11, 2014

Changing provider: Enid Head Start to be run by Durant-based group

ENID, Okla. — The provider of Head Start for Enid has changed because the grant to fund the program over the next five years was awarded to a different agency.

Watonga-based Opportunities Inc. ran the program for children ages 3 to 5 who have disabilities or live in poverty, since its three-classroom start-up in Enid in 1988.

The Office of Head Start awarded a new five-year grant to serve children and families in 16 northwest Oklahoma counties to Durant-based Big Five Community Services Inc.

Enid Public Schools, in the process of converting Carver Educational Center into an early childhood educational center with one Head Start classroom and five EPS prekindergarten classes, still plans to make a classroom available for Head Start.

“We’ll do the same that we promised Opportunities Inc.,” said Chris Smith, director of early childhood education for EPS. “As long as they need a room for the 2014-2015 school year, we’ll have one available. They just have to have a different contract.”

“We are honored to be able to serve the children and families of Northwest Oklahoma,” said Kent Watson, executive director of Big Five Community Services. “Big Five has a longstanding tradition of excellence in early childhood services.”

Big Five currently serves 807 children in 49 Head Start classrooms, partnering with 15 public school districts and five day care centers in a five-county area of southern Oklahoma.

Watson said Big Five collaborates intensively with school districts and child care centers in the communities it serves.

Big Five will provide Head Start and Early Head Start services in the counties of Alfalfa, Beaver, Blaine, Canadian, Cimarron, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Kingfisher, Major, Texas, Woods and Woodward counties in Oklahoma.

Jeff Alexander, director of early childhood services for Big Five, said Head Start and Early Head Start centers are expected to be located in all the counties of their service area with little or no disruption of service. Parents wishing to enroll their children should watch their local newspapers for announcements, check the Big Five website, bigfive.org, and be aware that staff will be blanketing the communities in the coming weeks.

People interested in working for the program should go to bigfive.org and click on the “Career Opportunities” tab and then the “Employment Application“ link. Completed applications should be printed and mailed to Big Five Community Services, Inc., 1502 N. 1st Ave., Durant, OK 74701, or e-mailed to jalexander@bigfive.org along with any certificates or other relevant documentation.

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