Head Start Parents, New Online Learning Resources Are Available!

HCHRA has added two more websites to provide fun learning activities your child will enjoy.  Below is a list of tools you can use to help keep your child on track for success in school.  Be sure to check back next week to see what else is new.

ABCYa provides games that touch on all academic areas — from ABCs to holidays.  It was created by teachers, and is aligned to standards. It never collects personal data, and is FREE on PCs.
www.abcya.com

Education.com
 provides printable worksheets and online activities to help children learn letters, numbers, words, and fine motor skills.
https://www.education.com/worksheets/preschool

Seussville lets children enjoy interactive reading games and activities featuring classic Dr. Seuss books and characters. The site includes a character guide, videos, book catalogue, Seuss biography, and tips for parents.
www.seussville.com/play/

Starfall provides opportunities for young children to have fun while learning their ABCs and reading skills through positive reinforcement in a brightly colored environment full of activities, games, and songs.
www.starfall.com/h/index-kindergarten.php

The Health and Nutrition Preschool Activities website has health and nutrition activities and crafts for families to complete at home.
www.first-school.ws/THEME/nutrition.htm

Scholastic: Clifford the Big Red Dog
 is a fun-filled learning resource for beginning readers.  The site features interactive storybooks, games and bilingual stories.
www.scholastic.com/clifford

Parenting the Super Kid at Meal Times provide nutritional activities for parents and children and helps build on the practice of family-style meals at home.
www.superkidsnutrition.com/pr_parenting-kid-meals/

StoryPlace
 offers preschoolers a virtual library experience.  Children can participate in story-time, watch videos, and play games.  The bilingual site also provides early literacy information and a guide to children’s books for parents and caregivers.
www.storyplace.org/

myON
 is an online collection of thousands of fiction and nonfiction digital books that you can access from home or anywhere you have Internet access!  You can also download books for offline reading.  About 10% of the titles are available in Spanish, and the book reader allows children to choose different reading support tools like audio narration (where the content of the book is said aloud as the child reads along), text highlighting (to show what word is being read), and there’s also a dictionary for every book. myON also gives you the ability to practice the Star Early Literacy Assessment – the reading test for students to take on a computer.  Below is all of the information you need to get started.

Website Address
www.myON.com
School Name:  Hinds County Human Resource Agency
Username: headstart
Password:  read

The Healthy at Home Toolkit provides our families with free learning activities that are easy to implement and can meet the different learning needs of our Head Start children. This toolkit was created by Teaching Strategies, ReadyRosie and The Creative Curriculum – they are the very same tools our teachers use in the Head Start classroom everyday.

Click here to access the Healthy at Home Toolkit. If you have trouble accessing the link, go to healthyathome.readyrosie.com.

Although we can’t physically come together at this time, these tools will provide endless hours of great learning activities.

If you have questions or need assistance, call us at (601) 923-1822 and leave a message including your contact information.  Although we are working remotely, calls are being monitored and a staff person will respond within 24 hours (excluding holidays and weekends).

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Recipients Will Receive Automatic Economic Impact Payments

The Internal Revenue Service, working in partnership with the Treasury Department and the Social Security Administration, announced on April 15, 2020, that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients will automatically receive $1,200 Economic Impact Payments.  SSI recipients have now been moved into the automatic payment category and no action is needed on their part.  The IRS projects the payments for this group will go out no later than early May.

No action needed by most taxpayers
Earlier this month, the IRS took similar action to make sure that those receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits and Railroad Retirement benefits can receive automatic payments of $1,200. While these groups receive Forms 1099, many in this group don’t typically file tax returns. People in these groups are expected to see the automatic payments later this month.

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for 2019 or 2018 will also receive the payments automatically.

Extra step needed to claim $500 for children
Eligible taxpayers with qualifying children under age 17 will receive an extra $500. For taxpayers who filed tax returns in 2018 or 2019, the child payments will be automatic.  However, many benefit recipients are not typically required to file tax returns. If they have children who qualify, an extra step is needed to add $500 per child onto their automatic payment of $1,200 if they didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019.

For those who receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits or SSI and have a qualifying child, they can quickly register by using the special tool available only on IRS.gov and provide their information in the Non-Filers section. They will need to enter information on the IRS website about them and their qualifying children as soon as possible to receive the $500 per dependent child payment in addition to their $1,200 individual payment. If beneficiaries in these groups do not provide their information to the IRS soon, they will have to wait until later to receive their $500 per qualifying child.

The Treasury Department, not the Social Security Administration, will make these automatic payments to SSI recipients. Recipients will generally receive the automatic payments by direct deposit, Direct Express debit card, or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their SSI benefits.

For those with dependents who use Direct Express debit cards, additional information will be available soon regarding the steps to take on the IRS web site when claiming children under 17.

For information about Social Security retirement, survivors and disability insurance beneficiaries, please visit the SSA website at SSA.gov.

General information about the Economic Impact Payments is available on a special section of IRS.gov.

Watch out for scams related to Economic Impact Payments
The IRS urges taxpayers to be on the lookout for scams related to the Economic Impact Payments.  To use the new app or get information, taxpayers should visit IRS.gov.  People should watch out for scams using email, phone calls or texts related to the payments.  Be careful and cautious.  The IRS will not send unsolicited electronic communications asking people to open attachments, visit a website, or share personal or financial information.  Remember, go directly and solely to IRS.gov for official information.

More information
The IRS will post frequently asked questions on IRS.gov/coronavirus and will provide updates as soon as they are available.

HCHRA Offices Will Open May 4, 2020. Head Start Centers Will Remain Closed.

As announced last week, in compliance with government mandates to help protect children and families from the spread of COVID-19, all HCHRA Head Start centers will be closed for the remainder of the school year.  All other HCHRA staff will return on Monday, May 4, 2020, unless otherwise notified, and all other HCHRA offices will resume normal operations.

Based upon the guidelines issued by public health experts and governing authorities, work schedules and agency operations are subject to change. Updates will be posted here on our website every Thursday morning until further notice.

HCHRA staff will continue to work remotely to provide timely and professional service.  If you or someone you know has any concerns that need immediate attention, please dial 601-923-1822 and leave a message stating the nature of your call.  Be sure to include your contact information.  Calls are being monitored and a staff person will respond within 24 hours (excluding holidays and weekends).  You can also reach us by email at HelpDesk@hchra.org.

Let’s remain vigilant about hand washing, disinfecting and practicing social distancing to help protect those who are most vulnerable and get us all back to living normal lives as soon as possible.

Assistance for Food Service Workers Laid Off Due to COVID-19

The Refill Jackson Initiative just announced that they received a grant from Oxfam to assist food service workers who have been laid off, terminated, or had their hours significantly reduced because of COVID-19.

The grant application can be accessed via this link for Google users and this link for non-Google users.  Information is included on who is eligible for this assistance.

The Refill Jackson Initiative is a jobs training and skills development program supported by HCHRA through its Community Services Block Grant funds.

Please share this information with others who may benefit from this assistance.

UPDATE: Head Start Centers to Remain Closed Through April 17th

In response to ongoing health concerns related to COVID-19, and in accordance with Governor Tate Reeves’ executive orders, Hinds County Human Resource Agency Project Head Start centers will remain closed through April 17, 2020.

As we go through this very unusual and challenging time, HCHRA is encouraging our Head Start families to spend time together reading and learning.  To support those efforts, we are happy to provide our families with access to myON and The Healthy at Home Toolkit.

myON is an online collection of thousands of fiction and nonfiction digital books that you can access from home or anywhere you have Internet access!  You can also download books for offline reading.  About 10% of the titles are available in Spanish, and the book reader allows children to choose different reading support tools like audio narration (where the content of the book is said aloud as the child reads along), text highlighting (to show what word is being read), and there’s also a dictionary for every book. myON also gives you the ability to practice the Star Early Literacy Assessment – the reading test for students to take on a computer.  Below is all of the information you need to get started.

Website Address
www.myON.com
School Name:  Hinds County Human Resource Agency
Username: headstart
Password:  read

The Healthy at Home Toolkit provides our families with free learning activities that are easy to implement and can meet the different learning needs of our Head Start children. This toolkit was created by Teaching Strategies, ReadyRosie and The Creative Curriculum – they are the very same tools our teachers use in the Head Start classroom everyday.

Click here to access the Healthy at Home Toolkit. If you have trouble accessing the link, go to healthyathome.readyrosie.com.

Although we can’t physically come together at this time, these tools will provide endless hours of great learning activities. So, let’s get started today!

We will continue to monitor the situation with COVID-19 while we seek guidance from our local and state officials to determine school plans moving forward.  We will be sure to keep you informed of any new developments.  We miss our students and families and can’t wait to see your smiling faces again.  Until that time, let’s all do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19.

If you have any concerns that needs immediate attention, please dial 601-923-1822 and leave a message stating the nature of your call.  Be sure to include your contact information.  Calls are being monitored and a staff person will respond within 24 hours (excluding weekends). You can also reach us by email at HelpDesk@hchra.org.

Spring Break Extended Through March 27, 2020 for HCHRA Head Start Program

Due to the escalating health concerns related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Hinds County Human Resource Agency Project Head Start has decided to extend Spring Break through March 27th.  All Head Start centers will remain closed and all parent meetings have been cancelled during this time.

We regret the inconvenience the school closure may cause, but in an effort to protect the health and safety of our Head Start children and families and the staff, we must comply with the recommendations of our federal, state, and local leaders to close schools.

We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you informed of any new developments.

To learn more about COVID-19 and what precautions you should take to protect you and your family, visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov. The Mississippi State Health Department also has a hotline set up to take questions from the public.  It is currently available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The number is 1-877-978-6453. 

Head Start Centers Closed Until March 18, 2020

Due to growing health concerns related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease, Hinds County Human Resource Agency Project Head Start will extend Spring Break until Wednesday, March 18, 2020.  Children will not attend school on Monday or Tuesday.  All teachers and central office staff will report to work as normal on Monday, March 16 to prepare for the return of our Head Start students on Wednesday, March 18.

We will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation while we seek guidance from our local and state officials to determine school plans moving forward.  We will be sure to keep you informed of any new developments.

A Message from Our CEO about the Coronavirus

What You Need to Know about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Over the past few weeks, a lot of news about coronavirus has been reported as the infectious disease continues to spread worldwide.  It was reported that north Mississippi residents who came in contact with Tennessee residents infected with the disease had to been quarantined as a precautionary measure to prevent further infection.  And most recently, three new cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Forrest County.

As the disease gets closer and closer to our community, everyone is concerned.  I want you to know that the health and safety of our employees and the children and families we serve is our first priority.  Here are a few of the most important things you need to know about the coronavirus.

HOW IT SPREADS

  • The virus spreads easily between people through close contact (within 6 feet), or being in proximity of a carrier when they cough or sneeze. It is most contagious when the carrier is showing the symptoms, which can appear within 2-14 days of exposure to the virus. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  • It is suspected it may also be contracted through touching contaminated surfaces as some have been infected with the virus just by being in the area where it is present.

AVOID CONTAGION

  • There is currently no vaccine for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The recommended way to avoid contagion is to avoid close contact with those who are sick. Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Clean and disinfect frequently touched items and surfaces regularly. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol content before you eat and after you use the bathroom, blow your nose, cough or sneeze.

AVOID SPREADING

  • If you are sick, you must stay home from work, school or any other social activities that would expose others, and call a doctor immediately. If you need to go to the hospital, please call the facility and report symptoms, recent travel and possible exposure BEFORE going there. Let them know if you have visited an area or come in contact with someone who has the coronavirus. They will determine with the help of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) if you need to be tested for the disease. If you HAVE to travel in public it is recommended that you wear a facemask to keep from infecting others and avoid public transportation like trains, buses and taxis. When you sneeze or cough use a tissue and throw the tissue away.

CARE AT HOME

  • If you become sick, it is important you stay away from others at home. Stay in an isolated room and even bathroom if possible. Keep frequently touched objects and surfaces cleaned and sanitized. It is recommended that you avoid contact with pets as well during your illness. Do not share everyday items like dishes, silverware, drinking glasses, towels, or bedding with others in the house, and those items should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.
  • If your symptoms worsen (e.g., it becomes harder to breathe), contact a healthcare provider immediately and inform them you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19.

IF YOU THINK YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS INFECTED

  • For every HCHRA employee and family member covered under our health insurance plan, UnitedHealthcare will waive copays, coinsurance and deductibles for COVID-19 diagnostic testing provided at approved locations in accordance with CDC guidelines for all covered members.
  • Call your primary care provider right away if you believe you might have been exposed to COVID-19. Your provider will have special procedures for you to follow.  UnitedHealthcare members can find a network provider by visiting myuhc.com.

At the center of HCHRA’s purpose is our desire to help families and strengthen communities.  We are committed to taking care of our team and those we serve.  In the coming weeks, we’ll be sure to provide guidance and additional information to help keep you and your families safe.  To learn more about COVID-19 and for the most up-to-date developments, you can visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov at any time.

Safe regards,

Kenn Cockrell
President and CEO

HCHRA Head Start Posts Exceptional Gains in Literacy for 2017-2018

As three- and four-year-old students begin to return to Head Start classrooms for the new school year, HCHRA teachers are beaming with pride from last year’s results. According to newly released HCHRA data from the 2017-18 Head Start school year, HCHRA students showed a 19% gain in Star Literacy test scores.

Star Literacy scores represent how well a student understands concepts and possesses specific skills that are important in the development of reading. These scores represent a snapshot of where the student currently stands as it relates to literacy.

At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, data showed that HCHRA had an average student score of 400.  A score of 300-487 places a child as an Early Emergent Reader.  Students in this category are beginning to understand that reading involves printed words and sentences, and that print flows from left to right and from top to bottom of the page. They are also beginning to identify colors, shapes, numbers and letters.

To ensure that each student was ready for kindergarten, HCHRA’s Head Start Program developed the “Early Literacy Race to 500” campaign. The goal of “Race to 500” was to ensure that HCHRA students transition from Early Emergent Reader to Late Emergent Reader.  Late Emergent Readers score 488-674. Students in this category identify most of the letters of the alphabet and can match most of the letters to their sounds. Students are also beginning to read picture books and familiar words around the home.

By the end of the school year, test results showed that HCHRA reached an average score of 476 among all four-year-old students tested.  “While short of our goal, I am proud to say that our Head Start staff delivered high-quality instruction and provided an excellent learning environment to ensure we saw exceptional gains in our students,” says Kenn Cockrell, president and CEO of HCHRA.  “We had multiple centers to surpass the 500 mark, and a few students even scored over 800 – a remarkable accomplishment.”

The gains came a year after HCHRA made curriculum changes and implemented evaluations that were better aligned with their curriculum. HCHRA also recognizes parents as the child’s first and best teacher.  To reinforce the learning that takes place in the classroom, HCHRA provides parents with at-home activities they can practice with their children to help them strengthen literacy skills until they return to the classroom.

Just last year, all Head Start programs across the state were wrongfully categorized as not having positive results in early literacy.  “When you group all students together, without considering income or opportunity, data is not properly analyzed, inaccurate generalizations are espoused, and programs are not fairly evaluated apart from the others,” said Cockrell.

Cockrell went on to explain that the teachers and staff at HCHRA are held to a high standard of accountability, which often surpasses federal requirements.  “In addition to ensuring that our education tools and methods produce results, we utilize measurement systems that ensure accountability and clearly communicate results to funders, community members and leaders throughout Hinds County.”

HCHRA operates 16 Head Start centers and satellite locations throughout Hinds County and has successfully run the Head Start program for more than 41 years.

Head Start Centers Closed Wednesday, January 17. Central Office and Neighborhood Services Centers Open at 10 a.m.

Due to the severe weather conditions in our area, all Hinds County Human Resource Agency Head Start Centers will be closed on Wednesday, January 17, 2018.  The centers will reopen on Thursday, and children may report to school at their usual time.

Central Office and all HCHRA Neighborhood Service Centers will open at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday.

Should severe weather conditions persist throughout the day, HCHRA will post any updates or changes to Agency operations here on our website.  If no additional updates are posted, HCHRA offices will be open on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.