Diane Peltz – Contributing Writer
Macon Program for Progress (MPP) is located here in Franklin at 32 East Orchard View lane, and it houses the Head Start Program for children ages 0-5 yrs. MPP is a private nonprofit organization doing business under a 501(c)3, which means it is tax exempt. Although this program receives money from the Federal Government donations are always welcome. Whether monetary or in-kind, the grant requirement match states that the program must raise funds or donations of 25% in order to remain qualified to receive funding. In-kind donations can consist of something as simple as the quilters in the community donating hand-made blankets for the children or spending time reading stories to youngsters enrolled in the program.
Goals of Head Start
The Head Start Program is so much more than a child care program. The goal of Head Start is to increase school readiness of pre-school children by focusing on five key developmental domains.
- Physical Well- Being and Motor Development.
- Social and Emotional Development.
- Approaches to Learning.
- Language Development and Emerging Literacy.
- Cognition and General Knowledge.
An on-site nurse provides consultation on nutrition and diet. Two meals are provided daily to each child along with a nutritious snack.
Through the Lion’s Club, vision, height, and weight are monitored. Dental needs are addressed through the Molar Roller Dental Program, which goes directly into the classroom, to assess dental needs of the children enrolled in this program
This program is free for qualified individuals and families. It is a needs based program which means that when families apply they are placed by two criteria: need and income. Parents who meet eligibility requirements receive free services for their child and for themselves. Based on need, the criteria considers community, age, younger or older mothers, and second child. Children placed in the Head Start Program range in age from 0-5 years old.
Approximately 315 children are currently enrolled in the program and many are on a waiting list. The waiting list is not on a first come, first served basis. It is based on the “need” criteria so even though a family might have registered early they may not be the one of the first families chosen, based on the need assessment.
The 0-3 years program titled Early Head Start, has 135 children currently enrolled and the 3-5 years program has 180 enrolled children. There are 15 Early Head Start Classrooms and 12 Head Start Classrooms. Buses for children ages 3-5, transport children to and from school. Families enrolled in the program vary from two parent households to single parents, grandparents, relative caregivers or foster care families. With a staff of 105 personnel, of those employed at MPP, 30 have Bachelor’s Degrees, seven have Master’s Degrees, 35 have an Associate’s Degree and the remaining employees have high school diplomas or certificates.
Parents as Teachers
The Parents as Teachers Program is available to all families with children 0-5 years old. There are no income guidelines and the child does not have to attend daycare or preschool in order to participate. Participants in the Parents as Teachers program receive personal home visits from a certified educator. The program provides them with timely information on child development and brain research; involves them in parent-child activities that encourage language development, intellectual growth, social development, and motor skills; and strengthens their relationship with their child. Studies show that children who participate in the program score higher on kindergarten readiness tests and on standardized measures of achievement in early grades.
The WIOA (Workforce Investment Opportunity Act) includes training for parents who are unemployed or underemployed. The family Self-Sufficiency Program assists families who have made a commitment to get the education and/or training they need to get a good job.
These programs assist parents in obtaining a high school diploma or GED, a two-year college degree and/or vocational services. The services are free to qualified parents and tuition and supplies are also included. Other types of training available for parents are short term training such as CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) Certificate, Law Enforcement, Child Care and EMT. Uniforms and clothes for job searches are also provided. Participants are assigned a case manager or a self-sufficiency coach who is responsible for all support services such as job connections and monitoring of progress for two years after graduating and/or being placed in a job.
MPP offers several housing programs for qualified families, such as HUD (Housing and Urban Development.) This program helps families with rental assistance. It is a federally funded program which offers safe affordable housing, based on income. All units approved for HUD assistance are of high quality and are inspected to assure they qualify, before families are placed. Funds for rent go directly to the landlord of a qualified HUD residence.
Other programs include Holiday Angels, which make sure low income, needy, elderly or disabled adults are taken care of at Christmas. This program connects recipients and donors to charitable organizations such as the Salvation Army, and Toys for Tots. Applications are available at MPP.
Back to School Angels helps with the transition from Head Start into public school. Backpacks with appropriate school supplie are provided to give kindergarten students the tools they need to have a productive first year in public school.
Food Care Program
Many students take part in the free breakfast and/or reduced lunch programs at their local schools, but during the summer months these children might not have access to breakfast or lunch. The summer lunch program was established to ensure that children receive a nutritious lunch during the summer break. With the help of culinary students from the LBJ Job Corps Program, MPP provides free lunch to all children, under 18 years old, at various sites throughout Macon County. They are always in need of volunteers to help prepare the food for distribution.
The Touch a Truck Program is being planned for the spring of 2019. This program will offer children the opportunity to interact with owners of businesses who use trucks/vehicles, in their line of work. Bulldozers, bucket trucks, and many other types of vehicles will be display for children to touch, blow horns or sirens and in general learn about how businesses in the community contribute to Macon County’s progress via their vehicles.
For more details on how to enroll or donate time or cash to MPP, call (828)524-4471.