HCHRA administers the Head Start Program offering comprehensive child development services to more than 2,100 pre-school children in Hinds County. The program has experienced exponential growth since its start in 1986 with 800 children enrolled. HCHRA operated 13 Head Start centers and 7 satellite classrooms which serves three and four-year-olds; and 4 Early Head Start centers which serves expectant
mothers and infants and toddlers from birth to age three.
HCHRA’s Head Start and Early Head Start programs serves around 2,345 children (including 75 who received special education) during an average school year. HCHRA staff attends to the developmental needs of these children in 106 classrooms, 5 days a week, for a minimum of 6 hours each day, with Head Start children attending
school 168 days during the school year, and Early Head Start students attending 201 days.
While education is the principal focus, promoting health and stability in the homes of our Head Start families is just as important. The Head Start program helps qualifying children succeed educationally by providing activities to help them grow mentally, socially, emotionally, and physically. The Head Start program is designed to educate three- and four-year-olds and prepare them to be developmentally ready to transition into kindergarten.
MEET OUR HS/EHS LEADERSHIP TEAM
Chelsea Luster, a Proud Head Start alumnus, is the Associate Vice President for Head Start and Early Head Start. Chelsea joined HCHRA in 2015. She serves as an assistant to the Vice President for Head Start and Early Head Start with program planning, system implementation, and develops action plans for Head Start centers to take in order to enhance program strengths and correct areas of weaknesses. Prior to joining HCHRA, Chelsea worked as a Sr. Health Program Specialist for three years with the Mississippi State Department of Health, Office of Child Care Licensure. She has completed studies in Psychology, Public Administration, and Public Management Leadership. Her experience in coordinating training on child care program regulations and policies/procedures for licensing is a valuable asset in ensuring the quality of our Head Start program. Chelsea’s mission is to work in partnership with others to ensure that all children and families have the opportunity to thrive and reach their optimum potential.
Thelma Dixon, Assistant Vice President of Head Start Administrative Services, has been with the Agency since 1970. She began her career with HCHRA as a Clerk Typist and worked her way up through the ranks. She is responsible for the management system whereby the services of the administrative division are planned, implemented, and evaluated. She works closely with the Head Start division directors to ensure that all program records are accurate and up-to-date. She also works with the Policy Council to ensure that its functions and responsibilities are carried out in a timely and effective manner. Thelma is a graduate of Henderson Business College in Memphis, Tennessee, with further studies at Jackson State University.
LaTessa M. Long, Ed.D.
Dr. LaTessa Long, Director of Children’s Services for HCHRA, joined the Agency in 2013. She is a graduate of Jackson State University, where she earned her Bachelor’s and Masters in Elementary Education and a Doctorate in Early Childhood Education. LaTessa has completed over 15 hours in School Counseling at Mississippi College. She also holds a certificate in Public Management and Leadership from the Institute of Government at Jackson State University. Before HCHRA, she worked as a second grade elementary teacher for 8 years and a literacy coach/interventionist for 2 years in the Jackson Public School District.
LaTessa currently holds an AAAA Teaching License Certificate with endorsements in elementary education (K-6).
She is extremely proud of her two professional publications. Her dissertation entitled: Teachers’ Perception of Parent Involvement on the Academic Achievement of Urban Elementary African American Males and she co-authored an article entitled: An Exploratory Study of Factors Influencing Doctoral Candidates’ Choice of Dissertation Topic Within an HBCU in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies.
LaTessa strives to demonstrate effective and innovative approaches for dealing with staff, families and children in Hinds County.
Michael R. Escalera
Michael R. Escalera is the Director of Facilities and Field Services here at Hinds County Human Resource Agency. He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) with a Middle Level Education Math and Science degree. Before joining the team here at HCHRA in 2017, Michael worked for six years in the Weatherization Program through a Community Action Agency in Arkansas. He started as an Auditor working his way through the ranks up to Assistant Weatherization Director. Michael when on to help establish the first Multi-Family Weatherization Program in Arkansas.
He also brings with him two years of Head Start, Facilities Health and Safety Coordinator experience. Michael is certified as a Playground Inspector (Golden Co.) Quality Control Inspector, OSHA 30, Weatherization Assistance Program (Pulaski Tech). He is very passionate about providing a safe and healthy learning environment for our youth.
Nicole W. Claiborne
Nicole W. Claiborne joined the HCHRA team in 2017 as the Family and Community Services Director. Nicole is an alumni of Jackson State University where she obtained a Master and Bachelor degree in Social Work. She also attended Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, TX where she obtained an Associate of Arts degree. Nicole is licensed by the MS Board of Examiners (SW/M&FT) and brings with her 24 years of social work experience as well as specialized training in the areas of disaster social services and child safety. She has had the opportunity to work recruiting families for children waiting to be adopted; work with victims and survivors of domestic violence; develop plans and coordinate service delivery activities for survivors of multiple natural disasters in the states of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama; present at local, state, and national conferences; and was selected as a LIHEAP Advocate and represented the State at the Nation’s Capitol in Washington, DC. Nicole believes social work is not just a career…..it is a ministry! She is very passionate about serving and advocating for disadvantaged populations (especially the elderly and children).
“When the world’s most impoverished class experience life stressors, it is not uncommon for their lives to unravel.” – Unknown
This quote is a direct correlation to Shiandra purpose and passion for helping children and families who are in need. She started her journey in the Human Services industry in 2009 as the Weatherization Assistant Manager. She has worked in several Community Action Agencies with an ultimate goal of reducing poverty in its community. Currently, she is a Nationally Certified ROMA Trainer candidate working as the Management Information Officer at Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA). Shiandra joined HCHRA in January 2017. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Master of Business Administration from Webster University. During her leisure time, she enjoys spending family time with her two children, Kadence and Aiden.