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Early Head Start has arrived in Catawba County

Catawba County Schools announces the launch of the Early Head Start program, a new initiative funded by a $1.4 million grant from American Reinvestment and Recovery Funds. Early Head Start will be the most intensive program offered to date by Catawba County Schools to assist families with children in the 0-3 age bracket.

Currently, the Parents as Teachers program offers monthly family visits for 60 minutes and The Catawba County Parenting Network provides parenting classes. Early Head Start will use an age appropriate Parents as Teachers curriculum and is an additional program provided through the Catawba County Student Services department.








“This program will allow us to serve families with a high level of needs during the important childhood years from birth to age three,” said Dr. Tim Markley, superintendent of Catawba County Schools. “It will be a vital component of our early childhood programs already in place and help to ensure that these children are prepared as they begin school.”

The Early Head Start program provides services for prenatal woman and their families up to age 3.  The current Parents as Teachers program serves families from the prenatal stage to age 5.  There are differences and similarities in the Parents as Teachers program and the Early Head Start program, however, both programs are focused on assisting families to ensure that their children have tools needed to learn when they start school. Services are offered in the home and Early Head Start serves families across all of Catawba County. The chart below describes the components of both programs.


Parents as Teachers

Early Head Start

Home visits

Once a month for 60 minutes

Weekly for 90 minutes

Group meetings/socializations

Once a month

Twice a month

Case loads

35-40 families

10-12 families

Case management



Criteria for participation

Family with child zero to 5

Families with child zero to age 3 and economic criteria


10 months a year

12 months a year


10 Parent Educators under the guidance of  the Director of Student Services

EHS Director, Family Resource Coordinator, Mental Health Specialist and 7 Family Resource Educators


All of Catawba County – based in various schools including Hickory City and Newton-Conover schools

All of Catawba County – based at Sweetwater Early Childhood Center and Catawba Rosenwald

Training/ Curriculum

Trained in PAT curriculum

Trained in PAT curriculum and Early Head Start performance standards

The Early Head Start program staff includes Early Head Start Director Gail Henson, Family Resource Coordinator Carolyn Bowser, Mental Health Specialist Cindy Austin, LCSW and seven Family Resource Educators to serve 80 families.  Henson is responsible for the oversight and management of the program. Bowser will be working with the Family Resource Educators and the community to recruit families and plan family activities with the educators.  Austin is a valuable asset to the program and is available to assist the families with mental health issues and concerns.  She will be offering monthly group sessions on topics of interest to families. Austin will also be available to provide limited individual brief therapy on topics ranging from anger management to relationship issues, etc.

The Early Head Start families will benefit from seven Family Resource Educators who can provide child development services and case management services for 10-12 families each.  All educators have been certified through the national Parents as Teachers organization.  Additionally, each educator has received training in the Early Head Start performance standards.  Educators will be assigned a geographic area to work and will provide services at a time convenient to the family, including evenings.

Family Resource Educators include:  Sharon Young, Sarah Glissman, Luz Grisales, Patty Ehrnsberger, Christy Sigmon, Stephanie South, and AliceAnn Campbell.   All educators have at least a Bachelor degree and have experience working with infants and toddlers.   

For further information, contact Gail Henson or Carolyn Bowser at Sweetwater Early Childhood Center at (828) 327-3689.   Henson or Bowser are available for presentations and welcome the opportunity to share information.

Created at 5/10/2010 4:31 PM by Crawford, Carleen
Last modified at 5/12/2010 2:12 PM by Crawford, Carleen
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