CNMI Head Start program director Melissa Palacios disclosed last week that enrollment figures for the new school year shows that they still need to secure 30 more slots to meet the mandated enrollees of 462 children.
In her report to the Board of Education, Palacios said that enrollment for the program remains open for the scheduled opening of regular classes on Sept. 4.
Palacios said they are presently conducting a house-to-house recruitment on three islands to inform families of the vacant slots.
The CNMI Head Start is a federally funded program under the Department of Health and Human Services, which provides developmental services for low-income children ages 3 to 5 and social services for their families. It has an annual budget of $1.8 million, of which over $300,000 is from the local government.
Each year, the program is mandated to have only 462 children. It is required to maintain a wait list to immediately fill slots when enrollees withdraw or stop attending the program. As of last Wednesday, the program had no one on its wait list.
Education Commissioner Rita A. Sablan hopes that parents will continue to send their children to the Head Start program. “We are required to serve 462 kids daily and if one is absent for one day or two, we need to know the reason and we bring in another student [to fill the slot] from the wait list,” she told Saipan Tribune.
On Wednesday, Palacios also updated the board on ongoing and pending projects, the completion of inventories, trainings and workshops for staff preparations, and the continuing effort of staffers to obtain degrees and certificates.
Palacios also conveyed the program's plan to further push reading literacy outcome and bared plan to partner with the public library's Bookmobile program.
Palacios reported that, of their 16 non-degree classroom teachers, three have already obtained certificates, five were granted waivers, and the rest are working on their requirements. A waiver is granted to allow a non-degree staffer to remain until 2015.
Palacios is optimistic that by school year 2013, the CNMI will meet the mandate of the federal government to have at least 50 percent of program classroom teachers have bachelor's degrees.
Board chair Marylou Ada also praised the Head Start staff for immediately taking action on a recent suspected high lead case on Tinian.