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Migrant preschool program earns top honors
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The Central California Migrant Head Start Program, operated by the Stanislaus County Office of Education, was recently named a “Center of Excellence” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. 

Locally, the Migrant Head Start Program operates the Turlock Child Development Center, which serves 150 children from low-income, agricultural-income based homes. 

Since 1965, the program serves 8,000 children in a seven county area and it was the first Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program to receive the nationally recognized honor. 

“It is quite an honor for us to receive this. We work hard to provide comprehensive services like education, family, health and social services. In Turlock — with such a high agricultural migrant population — there is a great need for these services,” said Deborah Clipper, SCOE executive director of Child and Family Services.

According to studies, early childhood education programs pay dividends for children, families and the communities at large.

“Research shows that children are less likely to repeat grades when they are older, and are far more likely to graduate high school,” said Clipper. 

The “Centers of Excellence” represents the Head Start and Early Head Start programs that have long standing and consistent records of implementing exemplary services and demonstrating positive outcomes for children and families. 

To be designated, an agency must be an active partner with other early care and education providers, and collaborate with schools, child care, and other community organizations to deliver comprehensive services in their respective communities. Centers for Excellence serve as models to other programs within their states and regions. 

Out of more than 100 gubernatorial nominations, 10 Centers of Excellence were announced. “Their innovations and best practices can help inspire and guide other Head Start programs and the early education community at large as we continue to raise the level of quality for the children and families we serve,” said Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, director for the Office of Head Start.

Delegate agencies partner with SCOE to provide services through the Central California Migrant Head Start Program, including: Pajaro Valley Unified School District, Central California Child Development Services, Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Community Action Partnership of Madera County, and the Head Start Child Development Council, Inc., located in San Joaquin County. 

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.