UAMS Head Start Partners with Little Rock School District To Serve Preschoolers

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LITTLE ROCK – The Head Start program operated by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences under the Department of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine is partnering with the Little Rock School District to provide more comprehensive services to children in their preschool programs.


The agreement was announced today during a site visit to Martin Luther King Jr. Interdistrict Magnet Elementary School by Leon McCowan, director of the Southwest Regional Office of the federal Head Start program.


The arrangement will allow schools with educational programs for 4-year-olds to enhance those services by having Head Start provide for health, dental, nutritional and mental health needs for eligible students. Four family enrichment specialists will work with families and the schools.


We hope that this arrangement might serve as a national model for collaboration with schools or even private child care facilities,” McCowan said, noting that UAMS is one of only three teaching hospitals in the nation to operate a Head Start program, which provides services to children from low-income families and serves as a home-to-school link.


The agreement would not cost either agency additional funds. Benefits include more positive outcomes for the children, better attendance and participation in the programs, enhanced corporate interest in the schools, and information for possible future research on early childhood development.


“With the increase of preschool programs across the nation, creative methods are being looked at that broaden and expand services for all children,” said Roy G. Brooks, Ed.D., superintendent of the Little Rock School District.


UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., said part of Head Start’s purpose is to provide outreach and cooperation with other agencies in the community.


“By collaborating, we provide the family home link,” Wilson said. “Our family enrichment specialists will work to see that the health and social service needs of the children and their families are addressed.”


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,320 students and 690 medical residents. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with almost 9,000 employees, including nearly 1,000 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the VA Medical Center. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.3 billion a year.