LIVINGSTON, MT — HRDC announced its new partnership and merger with the Livingston school district to deliver early education to area children. HRDC’s Early Childhood Education program, known locally as Head Start, will now be available to income-eligible families through the Livingston School District kindergarten readiness program.
“We are pleased to have this new and exciting merger with Livingston Public Schools to help more kids enter Kindergarten ready to learn and address potential achievement gaps early,” said Sara Savage, HRDC Early Childhood Director. “Unfortunately, this also means change for our community which can be hard because Head Start will look different in Livingston.”
Head Start is a federally funded program providing early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement and has been operated by HRDC in Livingston for over 30 years. Given the program’s continued trend in declining enrollment over the past 5 years related to the school district’s launch of its 2-year kindergarten readiness program, HRDC approached the district with a proposal to merge the two programs. While better meeting the trending needs of the community, this merger allows HRDC to target its early childhood education programming toward three-year-olds, provides a foundation for HRDC to build upon in establishing partnerships with school districts throughout the region, and ensures all area pre-school aged children have access to quality education. Income-eligible students aged four by September 10th can apply for enrollment in the kindergarten readiness program (2-year kindergarten) in the Livingston school district beginning this next school year. There is no cost to attend.
“HRDC has done an excellent job over the past 30 years providing quality early childhood education, and we are excited to bring both programs under one roof,” said Lynne Scalia, Livingston Schools Superintendent. “This will help us develop long-term relationships with families and provide a continuum of education and support to Livingston kids.”
The last day of the HRDC Head Start was June 15th, students are now on summer break. Families and staff were informed of the change this week. HRDC is working with Head Start staff to provide employment referrals and support and is also coordinating with the families of students to make this transition as smooth as possible. It is hoped that a local childcare provider will utilize the current Head Start space to expand much-needed childcare opportunities in the community.
HRDC is a private, not-for-profit Community Action Organization focused on building a better community by combatting poverty across southwestern Montana. HRDC plays a vital support role for individuals of all ages in Park County through programs, including energy assistance, home weatherization, senior services, community development, affordable housing, emergency assistance, financial development, and more. More information is available at https://thehrdc.org/.