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Aroostook to receive more than $3.5 million from DHHS to fund Head Start programs

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine —  U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and Angus King issued a joint press release last month announcing that three counties will be awarded a portion of a $11,773,325 million fund from the Department of Health and Human Services to go toward Head Start programs around the state. 

In addition to Penquis in Penobscot County and Southern Kennebec Development Corp., the Aroostook County Action Program, ACAP, will receive more than $3.5 million in funding for their Head Start programs. 

“Head Start programs are instrumental in ensuring that young children cultivate new skills and receive educational opportunities … We welcome this important investment in the children and families of Aroostook, Penobscot, and Kennebec counties,” Sen. Collins and Sen. King said in the June release. 

Head Start is a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children ages birth to 5 from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social and emotional development, according to Maine DHHS website. 

ACAP was established in 1972 as a non-profit organization which provides an array of services including community health, workforce development, housing and educational programs like Head Start. According to its website, ACAP is one of 10 community action programs in Maine. In addition to the Presque Isle office, there are bureaus in Fort Kent, Houlton and Madawaska. 

Sue Powers, the director of ACAP Early Care and Education, said the Head Start program “takes a holistic, whole family approach to service delivery. In the classroom or in the home, Head Start education staff work with children to build skills and knowledge in the areas of nutrition, health and wellness, cognitive skill building and social emotional development.”  

The $3.5 million DHHS fund will be used to continue the operation of ACAP locations as well as expand the operating hours of two preschool classrooms, according to Powers. 

The funds will allow the two Caribou preschools to operate six hours a day, five days a week, similar to schools in Houlton and Presque Isle. This expansion is expected to give students more classroom hours to work on their skill development and social interaction, Powers wrote.  

Powers also stated that ACAP is accepting applications for the 2019-2020 school year. Interested families can call 768-3045 for information. 

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