Program accepting applications for free child care

Program accepting applications for free child care

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- The Head Start program is accepting applications for free child care services at their centers around Region 8. An administrator with Arkansas Early Learning said they are still trying to reach full enrollment in the 6 counties they serve.

Nearly 1 in 3 Arkansas kids live in poverty according to an annual report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation of Baltimore. Six percent of Arkansas children lacked health insurance in 2012, down from 9 percent in 2008, according to the report.

According to Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, several Region 8 counties have a high percentage of children in poverty.

                        Total Children         Children under 5

    in Poverty                     in Poverty


Baxter:            2,083     29.2%              598      32.4%

Clay:                1,013     27.6%               473     50.6%

Craighead:      6,541     28.7%            2,297     35.2%

Cross:                 939     20.1%               258     21.8%

Greene:           2,221     22.0%                901     33.7%

Independence: 2,630    31.3%               981     40.8%

Izard:                  655     25.0%               169      25.5%

Jackson:           1,530     41.3%               450     43.5%

Lawrence:       1,668     41.4%               429     41.1%

Mississippi:      5,159     39.3%            1,530    42.3%

Poinsett:          2,386      40.6%               565    36.8%

Randolph:           957     23.6%               185    17.0%

Sharp:              1,147      31.2%               285     30.9%                     


Head Start is one of many programs that provides free services to low-income parents.

"We’re based on mostly helping low income families and also children that are disabled, homeless families, foster children," said Wayne Conner, Child Development and Early Education Manager at Arkansas Early Learning. "We serve 947 children here in our early head start program but currently we have 52 openings."

Those openings are in Caraway, Wynne, Paragould and Jonesboro. Head Start offers full and part day programs for children at no cost to thparents. Arkansasas early Learning was recently awarded a grant to offer services in Pulaski and Garland County pushing the total number of children served to 1043. 

"We start school on August 25th  but they can come down and register at any time," Conner said.

Parents must have a proof of birth, income and residency to enroll their child in Head Start. Conner said they will continue registering kids throughout the school year so if a position opens up another child can move into that position. You can click here for more information. 

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