HCHRA’s 5K Poverty Awareness Run/Walk: And the Winner Is…

Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) held its first Walk in My Shoes 5K Poverty Awareness Run/Walk on September 7, 2019,  with the racecourse beginning at the Martin Head Start Center located in downtown Jackson.  Participants say it was a beautiful course that was fun to run. It went through the historic Farish Street district over to Midtown Head Start Center, which incidentally was the midpoint, and then ended where it began, back at the Martin Head Start Center. Race day began at 6:00 a.m. and ended at 8:30 a.m. with an awards ceremony.

The event was created to bring awareness to the insufficiencies some Hinds County residents and communities face concerning family and economic security. Proceeds from the race will support the programs and services offered by HCHRA to provided families with opportunities and resources to address their unique needs for emergency assistance, food, housing, health, education, and/or job development.

Not only did the 5K run/walk create greater awareness about the services and opportunities HCHRA provides to the community, it also got Agency employees, community partners, friends and families with children of all ages involved.  Trophies and “braggin’ rights” were given to the team with the most miles, the one with the loudest/craziest outfits, and the team with the most HCHRA spirit, and awards were given to the fastest male and female in each age category ranging from 7 to 60, and above!

“Race organizers told us that we shouldn’t expect too much during our first year,” said Roger Lutrell, HCHRA’s vice president for Planning and Development.  “They told us if we get 40 people to participate, we’d be doing well, and if we got 60, we would be doing really well.  Needless to say, we are ecstatic about the turnout.”  Over 100 people participated in the race as either individuals or teams, all vying to beat the clock and promote health and well-being.  The race was even more success due to the generous support of sponsors. Mississippi Group Marketing, the largest donor, served as the finish line sponsor. Other sponsors included Jackson Area Federal Credit Union, Covington Electric and Phelps Dunbar, Waterview Casino & Hotel, and Atmos Energy.

“We appreciate every employee and supporter who got involved to help support our cause and mission to foster self-sufficiency for the clients we serve,” said HCHRA President and CEO Kenn Cockrell.  “We look forward to greater participation next year and making an even greater impact in the community.”











HCHRA Family Literacy Night a Huge Success: Read All About It!

HCHRA hosted Family Literacy Night and the event was a huge success.  Approximately 424 families of children enrolled in Head Start came out for the event which was created to promote parent participation and encourage community literacy.

Families returned to Head Start classrooms with their children to experience an evening of fun learning activities related to the children’s book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”  The book is about a boy who shares a cookie with a hungry mouse, and that one act creates a chain of events that lead to an endless stream of demands from the mouse that leave the boy worn out in the end.  The book teaches concepts of sequencing, cause and effect, and self-sufficiency. Parents and children worked together to complete math and literacy exercises inspired by the concepts and lessons revealed in the book.

Interim Children’s Services Director Dr. Twana Mallard stated, “We saw the children exhibit an increasing excitement in regards to math and literacy. We saw families develop greater awareness of ways to assist their children in learning.  Families saw their children learning, and children saw their families’ support in their learning and school environment.  It was a wonderful experience.”

For more information on Head Start programs and services, please call 601.923.3930 or go to www. ITFrontdesk.com to register.

Martin Head Start Center and The Della J. Caugills Early Head Start Center Are Closed Today – Wednesday, September 25, 2019 – Due to Water Main Break

Martin Head Start Center and The Della J. Caugills Early Head Start Center are experiencing water outages due to a water main break.  The centers will be closed on Wednesday, September 25, 2019.

We will provide updates as they become available from the City of Jackson. If you have questions, please call your center administrator.

HCHRA Recruitment and Developmental Screening Fair Readies Children for Head Start

In just one day, Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) helped 339 families enroll their preschoolers in the Head Start program and made sure they had all of their health screenings for the upcoming school year.  The recruitment and developmental screening fair was the second such event HCHRA hosted this summer.  The first was held at Mary C. Jones Head Start Center in June, and the last one was held at Westside Head Start Center near the end of July.  HCHRA staff provided information about Head Start and assisted parents with the enrollment process, while providers performed medical, dental, speech, hearing, vision and developmental exams for every Head Start student who needed them.

Choices Dental provided hygiene awareness and made sure students were cavity-free.  Mississippi Families for Kids shared information on day treatment centers for 1- to 5-year-olds, adoption, outreach, counseling and more.  Assurance Wireless helped eligible families get free cellphone services, if needed.  Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center and UMMC UNACARE had their large mobile clinics on-site to conduct wellness exams. Hinds Behavioral Health Services, Habitat for Humanity, Mississippi Smiles, CANOPY Children’s Solutions, the Mississippi State Department of Health, and the Mississippi Division of Medicaid were also on hand to provide information and services to the attendees.

HCHRA’s organized the event as a proactive measure to assist in the early determination of children who may be in need of support services.  Department of Family Opportunities staff member Elizabeth Easterling stated they would initially check to see if children were already on the Head Start waiting list or needed to enroll. Children would then participate in a medical assessment along with a family unit assessment geared to find resources and provide assistance on the family’s individual interests to make sure the family’s needs were met.

A passport was given to each family to streamline the recruitment and screening process.  Parents visited each area sequentially, and their passport was marked as each assessment was completed.  Sarah Fair attended the event with her daughter, Seara Fair, and her grandson, CJ.  Seara Fair, who is the mother of CJ, commented, “It was an easy process, organized and well put together.  First, we received a registration card. Then we visited an advisor, went for the developmental screenings, and received a copy of our records. It was a good process.”  HCHRA structured the event to make sure that parents had access to every resource and service they needed to enroll their child in Head Start – all in one place.

The fair also included popcorn and cotton candy, train rides, and an activity room where children and parents could bowl, color, or play mini basketball and bean bag toss games while they waited for their screenings.  Parent M’Tisha Townsend, while coloring with her daughter Jazmyne, a student at Mary C. Jones Head Start Center, stated, “I came along to help a friend. I like it.  It’s exciting.”  The train rides doubled as a fun time for the kids, as well as giving parents and grandparents a ride to their cars parked down the street.

For more information concerning Head Start, please visit www.hchra.org



HCHRA Executive Weighs in on the Need for More Funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Last year, for the first time in the 41-year history of Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA), the agency expended all of its Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds before the year’s end.  While this was partly due to a streamlined application process and increased operational efficiency, it was mostly attributable to the fact that Mississippi only receives enough funding to help 12 percent of the Mississippians who qualify for LIHEAP.

In a recent article published by Mississippi Today, Anna Wolfe, an investigative reporter on poverty, looked into how federal dollars are being allocated to fund LIHEAP and whether or not southern states like Mississippi actually receive their fair share.  Wolfe also reached out to HCHRA to see how funding impacts low-income citizens in Hinds County.

Wolfe spoke to David Knight, executive vice president for HCHRA, about a Jackson resident who received LIHEAP assistance from HCHRA in 2017, but is now having a difficult time securing an appointment to receive additional assistance.  Knight explained that the demand is so high, appointments are being scheduled thirty days out from the time any slots become available.  In 2018, funds ran out about halfway through the year.  “This year, they’re set to run out by fall,” said Knight.

The July 11th Mississippi Today article stated that the customer who was having problems scheduling the appointment, attempted to apply for LIHEAP this month in hopes that she could free up some of her household income to purchase school supplies and clothes for her children.  The article also stated the automated phone system kept dropping her calls, making it even harder for her to get an appointment.  HCHRA was pleased to report that by the time the article was published, the customer had already successfully scheduled an appointment and received the energy assistance she needed less than a week later.  The agency also reported that although there was not a problem with their automated telephone system, there was, in fact, a problem with its telephone service provider which resulted in dropped calls.  That problem has since been corrected.

HCHRA, like other Community Action Agencies who administer LIHEAP in areas where the funding is disproportionately allocated, is hoping that in the very near future, more emphasis will be placed on people’s needs based on poverty rates and energy burden than on states having the coldest weather.

Click here to see the full investigative report published by Mississippi Today on Mississippi being shortchanged on federal energy assistance funds for low-income homes.

HCHRA Participates in Community Resource Health Fair

In June 2019, Planning and Development Officer & Volunteer Coordinator Jessica Davis, along with the Childrens Services staff of Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA), attended the Community Resource Health Fair sponsored by Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center. Ms. Davis and Childrens Services staff were able to share information about HCHRA’s programs and resources to create greater awareness in the community about opportunities available through the Agency.  During the event, Children Services assisted individuals who were in need of Head Start services. Ms. Davis promoted volunteerism, passed out a Community Strengths and Needs Assessment and spoke one-on-one with participants about where they felt services were lacking in the community and what barriers or challenges they are facing that HCHRA could help alleviate.

To learn how you can receive services or programs offered at HCHRA, go to www.hchra.org.



HCHRA Passes Federal Triennial Review

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Head Start (OHS) recently conducted a monitoring review of Hinds County Human Resource Agency’s Head Start program.  The Triennial Federal Review of the Head Start Program resulted in NO FINDINGS.

During the review, OHS used the Head Start Monitoring System to gather data and other information to measure the performance, progress and accountability of HCHRA’s Head Start program and its compliance with the Head Start Program Performance Standards, the Head Start Act, and other regulations over multiple years.

The review included off-site and on-site reviews, and included reviews of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), Focus Area One, and Focus Area Two.

The Pre-K Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) is an observation tool used to analyze and assess the effectiveness of interactions between children and teachers in preschool classes – an important measure of quality.

Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) made great strides since its 2014 Federal CLASS Review. After reviewing the report, HCHRA took several actions to ensure higher teaching quality. Some of those actions included realigning the child assessment tools with the curriculum; investing in classroom staff by setting a 16 percent pay raise for teachers over a 5-year period to attract new teachers and retain the ones in place; and ensuring a significant amount of time and resources were provided for training and technical assistance to teaching staff.  The investment in training staff generated great results as all 4 education specialists, and 15 center administrators became CLASS certified. In addition to the management staff, 34 teachers also attended training and became CLASS certified.

The efforts made to raise the teaching quality of their program paid off. For the 2019 CLASS review, HCHRA scored from a quarter point to three-quarter points higher than they did during their last review in 2014. For example, Emotional Support had a score of 5.7167 in 2014 but scored 6.0806 in 2019. Classroom Organization gained 0.311 in 2019 and Instructional Support had the highest gain of .4481 from 2.4593 in 2014 to 2.9070 in 2019.

The investment made in training and resources allowed the grantee to deliver the best opportunities for children because, in addition to raising its CLASS score, HCHRA increased its student education goal to show a positive approach to learning through engagement, attentiveness, persistence, and curiosity by 3 percent in 2018.

Focus Area One evaluated program design, management, and governance structure, while the Focus Area Two (FA2) review looked at the agency’s effectiveness in implementing a high-quality program to promote positive outcomes and school readiness for children and their families.

The Triennial Federal Review of HCHRA’s Head Start Program resulted in no findings.  The written report issued by OHS stated, “Based on the information gathered during this review, we have found your program meets the requirements of all applicable HSPPS, laws, regulations, and policy requirements.”

 “It was particularly gratifying to receive the notice stating that we had met all of the requirements,” said Kenn Cockrell, president and chief executive officer of HCHRA.  “We often push our staff to go the extra mile to ensure that we’re doing more than the minimum that’s required.  Our hard work paid off and made this achievement possible.”

While conducting program reviews, the federal review team also looks to see if Head Start programs have any unique and innovative practices they’ve implemented to better serve families.  HCHRA received a personal, hand-written note from Dr. Beverly Bergeron, the director of the Office of Head Start and Early Childhood Development for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Serves, commending them for improving the efficiency by which they administer social services to Head Start families.  HCHRA recently completed a merger of its social and community programs to ensure that each of its families is linked to opportunities to increase stability and self-sufficiency.

Head Start is a program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families.  Each year, HCHRA serves more than 2,000 Head Start families in its 16 centers located throughout Hinds County.  For more information on HCHRA, visit www.hchra.org.

HCHRA Unveils Annual Report During National Community Action Month Celebration

In honor of National Community Action Month, Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) met with its board of directors and sustaining partners to report on the agency’s achievements this past year.  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 15th dinner meeting, HCHRA leaders showcased their 2018 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 got the first look at the agency’s 2018 annual report, which detailed the outcomes of more than a dozen Community Action programs operated by HCHRA. The report revealed that of the more than 239,000 people residing in Hinds County, approximately 48,378 live in poverty.  Last year, HCHRA provided home energy assistance, nutrition, transportation, education, and employment opportunities to over 14,000 disadvantaged citizens in 4,000 different households to help families and individuals become stable and more self-reliant.

Perhaps the most notable occurrence for HCHRA in 2018 was the overhaul to its customer service model.  Roger Lutrell, vice president for planning and development, explained how the agency merged its social and community service program divisions to create the newly formed Department of Family Opportunities to conduct family assessments in a thorough, more efficient way to promote sustainability and/or self-sufficiency for everyone in the home, not just for the individual who walks through the doors of the agency.

Following Lutrell’s presentation, David Knight, the agency’s executive vice president and chief operations officer, talked about HCHRA’s investments in staff training and development, new technology, and facility maintenance and upgrades to help make sure the agency provided the right opportunities for success to produce even greater outcomes than the year before.  Knight also talked about the cooperative agreements the agency established with 78 different community partners to ensure that HCHRA was able to link customers with any service they may need that is not provided directly by HCHRA.  “While we can’t be all things to all people, as a Community Action Agency, we should be able to refer people to a community partner where they can get help with the services we do not provide,” said Knight. “And that’s what we do, we link people with resources and opportunities.”

Some of HCHRA’s major accomplishments for 2018 include educating 2,247 children through its preschool education program; providing the training and support for 54 classroom staff persons to meet the standards necessary to become certified under the Classroom Assessment Scoring System, which measures the quality of interactions between teachers and students in PK-12 classrooms; improving access to medical and dental care for Head Start children; providing 3,281 families with energy, fuel and utility assistance; delivering 19,285 meals to senior citizens and people with disabilities who are unable to leave home without assistance; serving 6,631 congregate meals to senior citizens to promote health and well-being; and transporting 35,673 individuals to work, school and doctor’s appointments.

“I am very proud of the work we do here at HCHRA and the impact we made in 2018,” said Kenn Cockrell, the president and CEO of HCHRA. In addition to helping families live better lives, we made a $35.7 million economic impact in Hinds County in wages, taxes, job development and contract opportunities.  HCHRA is truly living up to its mantra of helping families, strengthening communities.”

A limited number of copies of the 2018 Annual Report are available at Hinds County Human Resource Agency.  Click here to view the full report.  To request a copy or get more information about the Hinds County Human Resource Agency 2018 Annual Report, call HCHRA’s Planning and Development Department at 601.923.3930.

HCHRA Offers Summer Food Service Program to Make Sure Children Receive Nutritious Meals During the Summer

In an effort to fight child hunger, Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) will offer the Summer Food Service Program from June 10 through July 23, 2019, at two locations in the Jackson metro area.

Children 18 years and younger can receive lunch at absolutely no cost.  The meals will be served Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at South Jackson Head Start Center located at 3020 Grey Boulevard, and at Mary C. Jones Head Start Center located at 2050 Martin Luther King Jr. Dive.

“During the summer, families typically have to buy more food, and that’s an increased expense that many families simply cannot afford,” said Kenn Cockrell, HCHRA president and CEO.  “By offering the Summer Food Service Program, we hope that we can relieve some of the financial strain and ensure that children receive nutritious meals across the summer.”

Both of the food service sites are open to the public.  Children are not required to show proof of age, income or residency.  For more information about the program, parents can call (601) 923-1780.