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.





Week of the Young Child Celebrated by HCHRA Head Start

During the week of April 8-12, 2019, each of the 16 Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) Head Start centers participated in the Week of the Young Child, an annual celebration hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children that celebrates early learning, young children, their teachers and families in which centers modeled a specific activity for each day of the week.

Head Start staff planned a week full of fun and exciting activities for the students to enjoy. On Music Monday, students marched to the beat while learning new math, language and literacy skills. On Tasty Tuesday, students and teachers created healthy snacks to encourage healthy nutrition. On Work Together Wednesday, students used teamwork to build together while developing social and early literacy skills.  Arts and crafts projects were created on Artsy Thursday as students developed their social and fine gross motor skills. During Fun-tastic Family Friday, teachers and students shared what family means to them and how they impact and influence their lives.

HCHRA Communications Specialist Carlene Parker spent time at a few of the Head Start centers capturing photos of the children engaged in fun learning during the week. Gertrude Ellis Head Start students moved their bodies to the music of the day, exercising for healthy bodies and strong minds.  Students at St. Thomas Head Start Center created multi-colored kites and unique abstract art by using straws to blow and spread paint in various directions as well as creating multi-colored art kites that expressed their favorite colors. The students at Mary C. Jones fashioned tie-dye shirts and created squishy slime, which generated squeals of excitement as they blended a mix of baking soda, dishwashing liquid and glue to make their very own supply of colorful slime.

Each day presented a new opportunity for learning and growing in unique and imaginative ways.


Hinds County Human Resource Agency Holds IMPACT Training

HCHRA Project Head Start held its final In-Service staff training on March 11, 2019 at the Jackson Marriott Hotel. Participants received valuable information on topics such as effective teaching strategies, school readiness, health and safety, nutrition, leadership, and food safety.

Head Start teachers Patrice Carr, Willie Smith and LaToya Turner attended the Promoting School Readiness workshop. They all agreed that the workshop was very beneficial and provided strategies they can use so that Head Start students will be ready for kindergarten and beyond.

In-service training workshop sessions ensure that staff is fortified with tools to provide support and the best learning environment for children and families who are a part of the Head Start program at HCHRA.

For more information on HCHRA’s Head Start program or services visit www.hchra.org


HCHRA Posts Significant Gains in Federal Review of CLASS

When Office of Head Start federal officials inspected Hinds County Human Resource Agency’s (HCHRA) Head Start program five years ago, CLASS observations were just beginning. Compared to other Head Start programs, HCHRA fared below average in two of three categories and unfortunately, fell in the bottom 10% of one category.

The classroom staff monitoring began in 2012 with an observational tool called CLASS, which stands for Classroom Assessment Scoring System and is devised to measure teaching quality. Developed at the University of Virginia, it quantifies three aspects of a teacher’s performance: instructional support, emotional support and classroom organization. These three domains have ten dimensions. In essence, it gives the federal government a report card on teacher quality in each of its nearly 1,600 Head Start programs.

After getting the report in 2014 federal review, HCHRA immediately began to redirect its operations to produce better outcomes. They first realigned their student assessment tools with the curriculum to produce more accurate data. Once they collected this data, they were better equipped to understand their results and use limited resources more wisely.

The agency then sought to invest in classroom staff by setting an aggressive teacher and teacher assistant pay raise schedule. Over the last five years, classroom personnel have seen a 16% salary increase. “Having competitive teacher salaries allows us to both recruit new teachers and to retain the already wonderful ones we have,” says Kenn Cockrell, HCHRA CEO. “In the Jackson metro area, we are competing for teaching staff with both our in-state and out-of-state neighbors.  While Mississippi continues to battle with the importance of raising salaries to match higher cost of living, HCHRA took a different approach five years ago and it is already paying off.”

HCHRA also invested a significant amount of time and resources in providing training and technical assistance to its staff. They insured that all education specialists and center administrators (principals) were CLASS certified. They trained and retrained staff on classroom management tools and even made the financial investment to have 34 teachers attend training to become CLASS certified so they could help their peers along the way.

HCHRA’s investments have paid off in a big way. HCHRA was once again inspected by the Office of Head Start in January 2019 using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System and it posted huge gains. Each CLASS dimension uses a 7 point scale. In just 5 years’ time, HCHRA was scored from a quarter point all the way to three quarter points higher than they did during their last review. This growth moved all ten dimensions to within the national average standard.

“We understand that gains in child outcomes are directly correlated with teacher gains,” says Cockrell.  “We owe it to our communities to ensure that we’re delivering the best opportunities for our children, and that’s what we’re doing by investing in our staff.”  Cockrell went on to say that the most important measure of success for HCHRA is the success of the children and families they serve.  One such measure of success is the 3% gain in student literacy goals HCHRA achieved in 2018.  “As for the future, HCHRA is looking to be in the highest 10% of all Head Start programs in the nation,” exclaims Cockrell. “Now is the time to move forward even further.”

Super Tax Day Yields Super Returns

Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) partnered with Entergy Mississippi to provide tax preparation services during Super Tax Day, which was held on Saturday, February 9th.

Citizens who earned $55,000 or less in 2018, were able to get their tax returns prepared at no cost by volunteers who were trained and certified by the IRS.  Customers who agreed to save part of their total refund at Super Tax Day event had an opportunity to win up to $50 in cash through a scratch off card promotion sponsored by Entergy, and their names were entered into a drawing for a $10,000 grand prize from the national Save Your Refund program.

“At Hinds County Human Resource Agency, our goal is to ensure that every opportunity we offer helps customers progress towards self-reliance,” said Kenn Cockrell, president and CEO of HCHRA.  “The greatest benefit of Super Tax Day is that our customers received professional tax preparation without having to spend hundreds of dollars for the service.  That’s more money they can keep in their pockets to manage their households and take care of other financial obligations.”

The response to Super Tax Day was tremendous.  HCHRA reported that 71 customers had their tax returns completed on that day and the agency was able to accommodate 27 more the following week at their Central Office location.  Income tax refunds for those customers totaled up to $286,596. Although, HCHRA has wrapped up its volunteer tax preparation services this year, anyone interested in receiving the services can call 2-1-1 for a list of other organizations that can provide the same great service at no cost.






Roger Lutrell, VP of Planning & Development for HCHRA, reviewing schedule to make sure customers are served as they arrive














David Knight, EVP for HCHRA, with Leyla Godsell of Entergy, welcome customers

















Shiandra Luckett, VP for the Department of Family Opportunities, with Chelsea Luster, Associate VP of Head Start, provide information on HCHRA’s Head Start program





Hinds County Human Resource Agency Shares National Impact Report

How Community Action Agencies impact the lives of 15 million people across the country

On January 24, 2019, the National Community Action Partnership released the first National Community Action Impact Report: Building Opportunities for All.  This unique and comprehensive report looks at how Community Action Agencies across the country impact the lives of 15 million people each year, creating pathways to prosperity.

The Community Action Network is a robust local force of 1,000 local Community Action Agencies, reaching children and families in 99 percent of all U.S. counties. Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA), whose main office is located in Jackson, Mississippi and has service locations throughout Hinds County, Mississippi, is a member of the Community Action Network.  Community Action Agencies connect families to opportunities that help them succeed and promote community-wide solutions to seemingly stubborn challenges in cities, suburban, and rural communities.

HCHRA President and CEO Kenn Cockrell thought it was important to share the national report with local stakeholders to provide a national perspective on the needs families face in today’s uneven economy, and the impact Community Action has in communities every day.  “We believe understanding and awareness are key components to combating the issues of poverty,” said Cockrell.  “The more information we can share to enlighten others and gain support, the greater our positive outcomes will be with moving people from poverty to self-sufficiency.”

“This report tells the broad story of Community Action and all of the incredible ways our members are making an impact in their local communities,” said Denise Harlow, Chief Executive Officer of the National Community Action Partnership. “For 55 years, our network has developed innovative solutions to improve family well-being and directly impact and engage local communities.”

Spotlight stories throughout the report highlight successful initiatives across America relating to jobs, asset building, health and well-being, community development, children and families, and housing. HCHRA hopes that sharing this report will bring communities together to effectively address the causes and conditions of poverty and provide opportunities for success.

To access the report, visit www.communityactionpartnership.com/impactreport/.

Head Start Students Are Back to School and HCHRA Is Helping Families Thrive

Christmas is now just a memory and the 2019 New Year has begun.  Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) is off to a great start and has accomplished much upon its return to the second half of the 2018-2019 school year to help its Head Start families be successful.

At the beginning of January, HCHRA organized Project SOAR, a services, opportunities, assistance, and resource fair, to provide families with utility payment assistance through its Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.  While the event was open to the public, HCHRA went a step further to offer the same services to Head Start families during a scheduled appointment at their child’s Head Start center.

Later in January, HCHRA partnered with BankPlus to offer the CreditPlus financial literacy program.  CreditPlus provides clients with a small-dollar, short-term loan as an alternative to expensive payday loans.  Clients who completed the program got the opportunity to join a mainstream banking institution, establish a savings plan, re-establish their credit, and move forward with information to make wiser financial decisions.  Families who did not get a chance to participate in January, can sign up for classes to be held in near future.

Beginning February 4th, the agency partnered with Entergy Mississippi to provide tax services to families at absolutely no cost.  Head Start parents can contact the family opportunities advisor at their child’s Head Start center to schedule an appointment to have their taxes prepared by a certified professional through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. Parents who agree to save part of their total refund will be entered into a drawing for a $10,000 grand prize from the national Save Your Refund program.  Not only is there a chance to win a large cash prize, but parents who normally pay to have their taxes done can now save hundreds of dollars and keep their entire refund by utilizing the VITA program presented by HCHRA.

HCHRA is a nonprofit Community Action Agency that is dedicated to helping families and strengthening communities by moving people from poverty to self-reliance.  “The more opportunities we provide to create a stable home environment for our Head Start families, the more we contribute to the success of our Head Start students well into adulthood,” said Kenn Cockrell, HCHRA president and CEO.  “The family education programs and assistance we offer will positively transform family well-being long-term.”

For more information on HCHRA, its Head Start program, and the services available to Head Start families, click here.