PRIME TIME Head Start Thrives in Ouachita Parish in First Year

Children attending Head Start Centers in Ouachita Parish showed rapid improvement in math, language, and social skills, according to a new report. PRIME TIME, Inc. (PTI), a distinct corporation of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, analyzed end-of-year data for 2017-18, the organization’s first year of operating the Head Start programming in Ouachita Parish. Through local, state, and national collaborations in education and family engagement, PTI has focused on closing the achievement gap and building a better future for children, families, and communities.

The results after one year are promising. During the 2017-2018 term, students showed significant academic growth on the Teaching Strategies Gold (TS Gold) assessments. PTI set goals for mastery of skills for 3-year olds and 4-year olds attending the program, aiming for 35% mastery in each domain by year’s end. The 4-year olds, due to begin kindergarten next year, exceeded these goals, with 47% of students achieving mastery in Social-Emotional/Approach to Play (SE/ALP); 41% mastery in Language/Literacy (L/L), and 38% mastery in Math/Science (M/S). The assessment found even more marked improvement among 3-year olds, who displayed 72% mastery in SE/ALP, 61% mastery in L/L, and 68% mastery in M/S.

“We made a commitment to our community that we will do all we can to help close the academic achievement gap, and every day, we strive to make good on our promise,” said Stalanda Butcher, PRIME TIME Head Start’s director. “Why? Because our children and families are worth it.”

In 2016 the Louisiana Department of Education and the U.S. Office of Head Start awarded the Head Start contract to PTI, a Louisiana-based organization founded in 1991. PTI faced the immediate challenge of identifying and rehabilitating Head Start facilities to meet health and safety requirements set forth by the state and federal governments. To date, the previous Ouachita Parish Head Start provider has not turned over control of the Jackson Street and Thomas/Wilson facilities. Through partnerships with the Monroe Housing Authority, Ouachita Parish School Board, and the Monroe City School Board, PTI has secured three facilities that currently provide capacity for 366 students. PTI remains focused on identifying facilities in the highest-need communities to reach full enrollment of 555 by spring of 2019. On June 14, 2018, the Monroe Housing Authority voted to provide another facility to PTI for Head Start services. Plans are already underway for this site.

“Given that we still do not possess the facilities operated by the previous grantee, we’re proud of the partnerships that have established a culture of excellence within Ouachita Parish this school year,” said Butcher.

PTI is currently running a 7-week summer program. PTI is accepting applications for 3 and 4 year-old children for the 2018-19 school year, which begins in August. Current families will receive more information about the upcoming school year at the end of July. Interested families can visit www.primetimefamily.org or call 318-541-2315 for more information.