We’re Moving up to Kindergarten!

As the 2017-2018 school year came to a close, Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) Project Head Start celebrated Class Day programs at each of its Head Start centers during the month of May.  After a year of structured learning that follows the Teaching Strategies GOLD curriculum, 849 four-year-old students transitioned from preschool to kindergarten, ready to go to the next level.  “In the education department, school readiness is our focus from day one,” said Dr. LaTessa Long, director of Children’s Services. “The curriculum used in our Head Start classrooms align with the Mississippi Curriculum Framework, which outlines the objectives children should master by certain ages, as prescribed by the Mississippi Department of Education.  For preschoolers, that’s making sure they’re prepared to succeed in school the first day they enter a kindergarten classroom.

At HCHRA’s Midtown Head Start Center Class Day program, the students demonstrated through songs and recitations, accompanied by music and movement, that they had mastered key learning objectives such as knowing numbers, the alphabet, colors and shapes.  Midtown Center Administrator Charlotte Johnson gave 46 elated Head Start students a hearty handshake as she handed them their certificates of completion, signaling their readiness to move from preschool to “big” school.  Parents stood proudly to capture pictures of this important milestone, never to relive this moment again, except for the memories captured in photos.

“We are proud to witness the progress of our Head Start students as they move from one level of learning and growing to the next,” said HCHRA President and CEO Kenn Cockrell.  “Our goal is to equip them with the academic and social skills they need in order to master kindergarten and be successful in life.  To do that, we utilize the best education tools available, as well as provide opportunities to promote the overall well-being of our children and their families in their homes, outside of the classroom.”

Hinds County Human Resource Agency Project Head Start offers educational services for children three to five years of age.  It is designed to encourage healthy development of young children through its wide range of services at 12 Head Start centers and 2 satellite sites located throughout Hinds County, Mississippi.  We provide a quality learning environment, medical, dental, nutrition, disability and social services, all at no cost to the families we serve.  Help make a positive impact in the life of a child. Tell parents of 3- and 4-year-old children about the services available through Head Start and encourage them to apply.  For more information on Head Start, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Hinds County Human Resource Agency Releases Its 2017 Annual Report

Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) is pleased to announce the release of its 2017 Annual Report.

HCHRA is the only Community Action Agency in Hinds County and is dedicated to serving close to 5,000 families in Hinds County through education, tuition, housing, nutrition, transportation, employment, safety, case management and home energy assistance programs.

2017 was a historic year for HCHRA, as it marked the agency’s 40th year of successful operations.  Deemed the year of “accountability,” HCHRA focused on results measurements and quality improvement.  The agency made use of new technologies, and new models of funding and delivering that were not previously available.  Through new partnerships with Parents for Public Schools of Jackson and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), administered through the City of Jackson, HCHRA added new outreach programs to include youth development, rapid re-housing, and homeless prevention.  With the creation of the Quality Assurance Division, the agency was able to benefit from real-time perspective on the adequacy of internal controls and the effectiveness of established policies and procedures, thereby giving them opportunities to identify any potential operational gaps and weaknesses and strengthen efficiencies.

The 2017 Annual Report highlights HCHRA’s partnerships with local, state and federal entities and details the agency’s impact and outcomes on helping low-income families and individuals become stable and more self-reliant.  Some of HCHRA’s 2017 outcomes include 29,485 meals delivered to seniors and citizens with disabilities at their homes and 7,411 hot meals served at congregate sites; 116

people obtained and/or maintained safe and affordable housing; 112 obtained employment; 9,882 working individuals or family members received fuel and utility assistance, and so did 7,689 seniors, persons with disabilities and their caregivers; 83 families were prevented from being homeless; 1,598 obtained health care services; 378,911 miles of transportation were provided; 2,275 children received comprehensive development services through our pre-k education program; and 704,896 meals were served to children throughout the school year.

“2017 was a dynamic year for us,” said HCHRA President & CEO Kenn Cockrell.  “We made excellent progress around technology, service diversity, strengthening controls and reducing bureaucracy.  HCHRA is an exceptional company with an extraordinary history of service and a promising future.”

Copies of the 2017 Annual Report are available at Hinds County Human Resource Agency.  A copy of the full report is also available here on the Agency’s website under Reports & Plans.  To request a copy or get more information about the Hinds County Human Resource Agency 2017 Annual Report, call HCHRA’s Planning and Development Department at 601.923.3930.

HCHRA Hosts Partnership Dinner in Honor of National Community Action Month

In honor of National Community Action Month, Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) celebrated with its board of directors and sustaining partners to share the agency’s 2017 achievements.  Observed annually in May, National Community Action Month was created by the Community Action Partnership to call attention to the Community Action programs that help thousands of families achieve self-sufficiency.

During the May 16th dinner, HCHRA leaders showcased their 2017 accomplishments and gave partners a first-hand look at the struggles low-income families face.  HCHRA showed how community action agencies such as theirs empower these families to become self-reliant.  Guests received updates on the outcomes of more than a dozen Community Action programs operated by HCHRA. The agency’s report revealed that of the more than 244,000 people residing in Hinds County, approximately 48,244 people living in 20,000 households, live in poverty.  HCHRA provided opportunities to over 5,000 of those households last year.  “These numbers show that we’re making great strides in creating opportunities, but they also show there’s still a lot of need,” said Kenn Cockrell, the president and CEO of HCHRA. “Our goal now is to figure out how to serve the other 15,000 households while funding virtually remains the same.  We’re doing a good job with what we have, but we don’t have enough funding to do all that we need to.”

Roger Lutrell, vice president for planning and development, presented the agency’s 2017 Annual Report, highlighting its education, employment, transportation, nutrition, and home energy assistance programs and the benefits and opportunities each provided.  Following Lutrell’s presentation, David Knight, the agency’s executive vice president and chief operations officer, talked about the continuous circular pattern in which HCHRA has historically operated and how it will use this pattern to become even more effective in 2018 and beyond.  Knight explained that the old way of doing business – where each of the agency’s programs start, operate and stop based on an annual cycle, and then start that same process all over again – is over.  “HCHRA has become an action learning agency, meaning we will work to identify better, more efficient ways of doing what we’ve always done while we’re doing the work, because there’s no time to stop,” said Knight.  “We are adopting new technologies and implementing new approaches to make sure we provide the right opportunities for success and produce even greater outcomes. The information and data on what works is there.  Now we have to use it the most we can.”

HCHRA is a public, non-profit Community Action Agency dedicated to helping families and strengthening communities.  For more than 40 years, it has built its reputation in eradicating poverty by empowering disadvantaged Hinds County citizens to become self-reliant and realize their full potential.  It is the largest Community Action Agency in central Mississippi, and the only one in Hinds County.  Through Head Start, Early Head Start, congregate and home-delivered meals, home energy assistance, rural transportation, case management, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Earned Income Tax Credit programs, HCHRA continues to improve the conditions of children, families, single adults, the elderly and citizens with disabilities throughout Hinds County.

For more information on HCHRA programs and services, click here or call (601) 923-3930.

Head Start Recruitment and Job Fair Extravaganza – Friday, June 8th!

On Friday, June 8, 2018, Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) will host a Head Start Recruitment and Job Fair Extravaganza from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at its central office located at 258 Maddox Road in Jackson, Mississippi.  The extravaganza will provide a myriad of opportunities for those who attend.

APPLY FOR A JOB
During the extravaganza, HCHRA’s Personnel Department will be accepting applications and providing information on job opportunities available for social workers, bus drivers, case managers, center administrators, cooks, custodians, family services workers, family & community services specialists, teachers, quality assurance specialists, security guards, transportation specialists and the vice president of Head Start and early childhood programs.  For a complete list of job openings, click here.  This could be the day you start a new career!

APPLY FOR HEAD START
Several staff members from the Department of Family Opportunities will be on hand to assist parents with the Head Start application process. HCHRA provides a comprehensive education program for children ages 0 to 5 years old, along with medical, dental, nutrition and disability services, all at no cost to parents.  We have 16 Head Start and Early Head Start centers located throughout Hinds County in the cities of Jackson, Byram, Bolton, Edwards, Terry, and Utica.  To apply, bring proof of child’s age, family’s income, and Hinds County residency. Families of children with disabilities are encouraged to apply regardless of income. Recruitment has already begun and slots are being filled daily. This is a great time to apply without having to schedule an appointment.

STAY FOR LUNCH.  ORDERING FOR A LARGE GROUP?  CALL AHEAD.
After exploring career opportunities or registering your child for Head Start, don’t leave hungry.  From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the agency will be serving hot lunch plates with catfish fillets, spaghetti, coleslaw, dessert and a beverage for only $10.  All proceeds will go to benefit HCHRA programs.  You can even call (601) 923-1794 to place your order in advance, and we’ll have it ready for pick-up. 

“This is our fifth year hosting the Head Start Recruitment and Job Fair Extravaganza and it has proven to be a great opportunity for community engagement,” said Kenn Cockrell, HCHRA president and CEO.  “The greater good, however, is that HCHRA uses this event to respond to the need for education and employment opportunities, which were identified by Hinds County residents and area organizational partners in our annual Community Strengths and Needs Assessment survey as two of the biggest problems to attaining self-sufficiency.  The Extravaganza is one of the ways we’re providing real solutions with measurable outcomes for putting people to work and providing a quality education to children whose families cannot afford the high cost of preschool – helping to end cycles of poverty.”

If you’re interested in enrolling your child in Head Start or applying for a job with HCHRA but can’t come to the June 8th Extravaganza, don’t worry, you can use our online services.

TO APPLY FOR HEAD START
Click here to schedule an appointment with an opportunity advisor.

TO APPLY FOR EMPLOYMENT
Click here to view a complete list of job openings and submit an application online.

HCHRA Head Start Celebrates the Week of the Young Child

The Week of the Young Child was no small feat for the little learners at Hinds County Human Resource Agency Head Start centers. From April 16 to April 20, 2018, teachers, staff, students and parents participated in the week-long, fun-filled activities.  All centers focused on a specific activity for each day of the week.

On Music and Movement Monday, students at the Welcome Head Start Center marchedto the beat with a “parade” of various instruments which they gleefully pounded, clanged, and shook. 
Welcome Center Administrator Shakrita Fields stated, “I love it!  It’s a new, creative idea and the children enjoy it a lot.”

Tasty Tuesday took the taste buds of Oak Forest Head Start Center students to a whole new “fruity” level.  Before making their fruit salads, students were taught where fruit comes from, how it’s transported and where it goes (grocery store), and how to combine the items to make a fruit salad.  Students were introduced to several fruits such as kiwi, strawberries, bananas, apples, and oranges.  Using plastic utensils, students cut up pieces of each fruit to place in paper bowls, were provided a fruit dressing and truly delighted in their fruit salads.  Dee-li-cious! 

 

Health and Wellness Wednesday provided the students at Gertrude Ellis Head Start Center with plenty of activities. Staff member Chelsea Robinson stated, “Kids went outside and participated in move to learn exercises.”  Later, inside the classroom, students received guidance in “brushing up” to keep their healthy smiles clean.

Nothing would beat a colorful day like Tie Dye Thursday.  Tons of children gathered outside at St. Thomas Head Start Center to paint the day away.  All hands were on deck for sponge, finger and brush painting. Blank white “canvases” were hung on fences and students created their colorful masterpieces to display.

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Fun-tastic Family Friday at Midtown Head Start Center gave families and students a great avenue to spend time together and play outdoors.  Dads and daughters, moms and sons had fun swinging, hula-hooping, playing basketball, jumping rope, climbing and sliding.  Great memories were created for each family and their children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children that celebrates early learning, young children, their teachers and families. HCHRA Head Start students and center staff participate each year.

For more information about Head Start and other programs and services, visit www.hchra.org.

HCHRA Extravaganza! Friday – June 8, 2018

Are you looking for a job? Do you need to enroll your child in Head Start for the upcoming school year?  We’ve got good news for you!

Hinds County Human Resource Agency will host a Head Start Recruitment and Job Fair Extravaganza on Friday, June 8th from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

If your child is at least 3 years old, but not 5 by September 1st, you can apply for enrollment at one of 16 Head Start centers located in Hinds County for the 2018-19 school year.  To apply, bring proof of income, child’s age, and Hinds County residency.  Children with disabilities are given priority for enrollment regardless of family income.

Not only is June 8th Head Start recruitment day, there will also be a job fair to fill several positions before the new school year begins.  Click here for a complete list of job openings.

Come to Head Start Recruitment and Job Fair Day and make plans to stay for lunch.  Hot fish plates will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for only $10.

Spring Break: Not Just for Fun

Spring break for college teens is usually one filled with vacations and down time from a semester of projects and homework.  But for the college students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), an “alternative” spring break was planned.  They decided to travel 493 miles to spend the week in Jackson, Mississippi giving up their spring break to volunteer their services around the city.  One of their stops was the Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA).

Amanda Kuipers, a UTK Child and Family Studies, Pre K-3 student, was the team leader for the group of 14 community volunteers that came to Jackson the week of March 12, 2018 to donate their time to Hinds County Human Resource Agency’s Meals on Wheels Program and the Little Bethel Neighborhood Service Center Congregate Site in Terry, Mississippi.  Kuipers states, “Each year, our Center for Leadership and Service Program chooses a theme in which we are to participate during the week of spring break, but the location is not revealed to the students until they are on the bus so that students don’t choose a trip based solely on location.  Though some students focus on one organization during the entire spring break week, we chose to service different locations each day.  All the trips in this program are student led, but we do get advice from our directors.”  This year’s theme was “Food Insecurity in Public Health.”

The UTK students were instructed to complete an online search for areas within an 8-hour distance pertaining to the theme and saw that Jackson, Mississippi was one of the locations.  From there, they queried local agencies in the Jackson area that focused on the theme.  HCHRA was one of the agencies they chose to volunteer with during their alternative spring break.

For the period of their visit, the volunteers split into two groups. One group of seven volunteers went to Meals on Wheels with HCHRA Planning & Development Officer and Volunteer Coordinator Jessica Davis, while the other group of seven went to Little Bethel’s congregate site with HCHRA Communications Specialist Carlene J. Parker.  Both groups of volunteers spent time visiting and talking with the elderly at their respective homes or site while servicing their needs.  Meals on Wheels volunteers greeted the seniors with a hearty smile and open heart as they delivered the meals to their homes.  Volunteers who visited Little Bethel, read to the seniors, listened to their daily devotional and then served them their meals.  The seniors also engaged the volunteers as they shared some of their life experiences and healthy wisdom.

As students rode from the Little Bethel site, volunteer Madelyn Weas, a UTK Chemical Engineering student commented, “It was good to be able to sit and talk with them and get to know them a little instead of just handing them a meal.” Other volunteers from the UTK included Mustafa Salameh, Katie Shannon, Thomas Hyde, Jared Smith and Emily Joyner.

Designed to promote the general health and well-being of older individuals, HCHRA’s Congregate Meals program provides seniors with a hot “sit-down” style meal at gathering sites throughout Hinds County. This service is intended to reduce hunger and food insecurity, promote socialization, and delay the onset of adverse health conditions.  In addition to serving healthy meals and providing opportunities for social engagement, the program gives seniors information on healthy aging and meaningful volunteer roles.  HCHRA’s Home Delivered Meal program delivers five nutritious, well-balanced and easy-to-prepare meals each week to elderly citizens and to people with disabilities who reside in rural Hinds County that are unable to leave home without assistance.  To learn more about HCHRA and its programs and services, visit www.hchra.org.

Project SOAR! HCHRA’s Biggest Community Event Ever

Tuesday, March 6, 2018, marked a stellar day for the Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA), which hosted a massive community outreach event called Project SOAR – a Services, Opportunities, Assistance and Resources Fair – held at New Horizon Event Center in Jackson, Mississippi.  Approximately 400 people attended the fair and received a wealth of information on education, finance, health, safety, social and legal services from dozens of speakers and exhibitors.  Through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), HCHRA provided energy assistance to 172 Hinds County residents, on the spot.

HCHRA, the only community action agency in Hinds County, Mississippi, administers LIHEAP for the entire county.  LIHEAP is a federal grant that offers assistance to help low-income families pay their energy bills for heating or cooling their homes, and offers additional help in cases of energy crisis, such as utility shutoffs for households in immediate danger of being without heating or cooling.  “One of HCHRA’s primary goals for Project SOAR was to promote awareness about LIHEAP and to make it available to anyone in need who met the qualifications for the program,” said Kenn Cockrell, president and CEO of HCHRA.  “The assistance provided through LIHEAP creates some relief from the financial strain low-income families experience and helps to create greater stability in the home.  Receiving payment assistance on energy bills, means that families will have more income available to address other household responsibilities.”

Typically, anyone interested in receiving LIHEAP services would have to schedule an appointment to meet with a case manager to apply for assistance.  According to HCHRA, the need is so great, appointments are now being scheduled three to six weeks out.  During Project SOAR, no appointment was needed.  HCHRA had 20 case managers onsite to meet with clients one-on-one to determine eligibility and provide immediate relief.

Over the years, HCHRA has organized various events in the communities it serves.  Project SOAR, however, was the agency’s largest community outreach event to date.  In addition to providing direct services, HCHRA invited a diverse group of corporate and community partners to conduct informative talks and offer valuable resources.  Health screenings were provided by volunteers from the University of Mississippi Medical Center.  BankPlus, a corporate partner, conducted a community forum on financial management.  Sam Buchanan, executive director of the Mississippi Center for Legal Services Corporation, conducted a forum and set up an exhibitor booth to offer free civil legal assistance on foreclosures, school loans, deeds and trusts to eligible attendees.  Some of the other forums provided information on voter registration, child safety, disease management and support for families and individuals living with mental illness.  HCHRA had staff on hand to provide information about Head Start, its preschool education program which serves children ages 0 to 5 and offers a variety of health and social support services for its students and their families.  They also provided attendees with information on their senior programs, home delivered meals, adult education, rental assistance, transportation, and emergency services programs.  AARP served as an exhibitor and shared information on the AARP Foundation’s Fresh Savings, a healthy-food incentive program which also has a nutrition education component.  Erin Smith of the AARP Foundation stated, “This is a wonderful event. We thank the agency for letting us be a part of the fair.”

“Project SOAR was a community resource fair created to address many of the barriers households in poverty face: from day-to-day crises to long-term need for jobs and education.  The agency plans to make it an annual event,” said Cockrell.

If you are in need of assistance but you were unable to attend Project SOAR, call HCHRA at (601) 962-5935 to schedule an appointment with a case manager to discuss opportunities.  You can also visit www.hchra.org to learn more about HCHRA and its programs and services.

Head Start Centers Get New Signs. Can You See Us Now?

HCHRA recently installed new signage at several of its Head Start Centers located throughout Hinds County.  This was a major project that took months to complete, but was well worth the time and effort.

HCHRA has operated the Head Start Program since 1976.  Over the years, signs were erected as new centers were opened and then they were replaced when needed.  “Some of our signs displayed our old logo and needed to be updated, and several were simply worn due to years of exposure to the elements,” said Kenn Cockrell, HCHRA’s president and CEO.  “Head Start offers a very high quality education program, and we want our signage to reflect that.”  Cockrell went on to explain that in addition to achieving uniformity among all centers and promoting visibility in the community, the signs were installed as part of the program’s safety plan to ensure that all of its sites are easily identifiable in case of emergencies.

The Head Start center located in Terry, Mississippi, was named (posthumously) in honor of Eulander P. Kendrick in 2002.  Mrs. Kendrick joined Head Start in 1969 as a teacher aide and served as center administrator from August 1990 until her retirement in August 2000.  Under her leadership, the Terry Head Start Center was the first center to receive accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).  Joseph O. Kendrick, Sr., the husband of the late Eulander Kendrick, commented, “I was proud to see the new signs installed.  It’s been a long time coming.  The Head Start Center was my wife’s pride and joy.  She would spend countless hours at night working on lesson plans for her kids’ class work for the next day.  She was dedicated to making sure that all the children would be ready for the next level in their education. ” Mr. Kendrick’s son, Joseph Jr., serves as the mayor of the town of Terry.  Mayor Kendrick says, “This really means a lot to my father because he hoped that this would be done while he was still alive.  When we saw the new signs, family members began to stop and take pictures.  We are very appreciative.  They look great.”

Mayor Kendrick submitted photos of the new signs to be included in the town of Terry’s history book marking their 150th year celebration in hopes they will make the publication not only to celebrate the legacy of his mother, but to also mark the longstanding presence of Head Start and its historic role in the education of young children in the community.

Like the building and ground signs installed at Eulander P. Kendrick Head Start, new signage has been installed at the Edwards, Oak Forest, Richard Brandon, Edwards, Gertrude Ellis, Mary C. Jones, Martin, Midtown, St. Thomas, South Jackson, Welcome, and Westside Head Start Centers.  Can you see us now?

HCHRA Meets 100% of CSBG Program Standards

On March 19, 2018, Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) received notice from the Mississippi Department of Human Services that following a review by the Division of Community Services, HCHRA was found to have met 100% of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Program organization standards for 2017.

The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Community Services (OCS), a federal entity, requires states to establish a set of organizational standards as part of performance management and accountability for the CSBG Program.  In the case of Hinds County Human Resource Agency, the Mississippi Department of Human Services has both the authority and responsibility for oversight for the agency’s CSBG Program.

The standards by which HCHRA’s performance was measured were designed to ensure that the agency has a capacity to provide high-quality services to low-income families and communities.  During its review, the Division of Community Services looked at HCHRA’s consumer input and involvement, community engagement, community assessment, organizational leadership, board governance, strategic planning, human resource management, and financial operations and oversight.

“To go from achieving 95% of the standards in 2016, to meeting 100% in 2017, is a testament to our commitment to continuous improvement,” said Kenn Cockrell, HCHRA president and CEO.  “We will continue to work to maintain the high standard of excellence that has been set.”

For more information on the organizational standards for CSBG eligible programs, visit www.nascsp.org/Performance-Management/967/Organizational-Standards.aspx.