The cool cloudy morning on Friday, March 22 did not dampen spirits as people made their way to the Riverbank Child Development Center for the celebration of the re-opening of the new classroom portables. Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE) hosted the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony where the newly built center will be operated by SCOE’s Child and Family Services division located next to Riverbank High School on Claus Road in Riverbank.
SCOE Executive Director, Child and Family Services, Tony Jordan addressed the crowd and shared some history about the project and thanked several people that helped make the project happen.
Jewelee Hotchkiss, Child Family Services Director explained that the Riverbank Child Development Center is operated through a partnership between Stanislaus County Office of Education Child and Family Services (Head Start and State Preschool) and Special Education (Early Intervention) Divisions and Central California Child Development Services (Migrant Head Start).
“The center provides early education programs to qualifying children ages 18 months to 5 years,” added Hotchkiss. “We have been serving children with Head Start in Riverbank for over 40 years.”
The Riverbank High School (RHS) band led by Band Director Joey Aguilar played the National Anthem at the event and RHS Leadership students helped set up. RHS Principal Dr. Sean Richey was in attendance as well as RUSD Superintendent Dr. Daryl Camp. Colors were presented by the Stanislaus Military Academy.
There were four students in the band that currently attend RHS that participated in the Head Start Program.
Jordan added that the former building was dilapidated and needed to be renewed and repaired. Special recognition was presented to him for his efforts in successfully re-opening the Child Development Center. They also thanked the instructors and staff of the center. SCOE Superintendent Scott Kuykendall was presented a certificate of recognition from Assemblyman Heath Flora’s representative for the grand re-opening of the center.
There were refreshments served including water, apple juice and cookies.
After the presentations guests were allowed to tour the new facility. The center can accommodate approximately 100 preschool children. With about 20 educators and support staff, the campus is well served.
According to Hotchkiss, 90 percent of families are income eligible or categorically eligible for Head Start. Families with income below the federal poverty guidelines who are on TANF, Foster Children, Homeless Families, and Families on SSI can participate in the program. Head Start programs offer at least 10 percent of enrollment vacancies to children with documented disabilities. Early Intervention (Special Education) class serves children with documented disabilities whose Individual Education Program, IEP, designates attendance in a special day class.
Staff gathered some of their students together to give the guests a performance of a few songs that they sang. Afterwards the kids were asked about their new facility to which some replied that they really like the new toys and classrooms. One youngster said that he really liked the toilets which the staff explained were previously port-a-potties.
The four students from the RHS band that went through Head Start were asked to join the SCOE staff as they cut the ribbon to officially open the new center. The ribbon was cut, the audience applauded and the tours of the facility began.
For more information on the Head Start or Migrant Head Start programs call 238-6400 or visit www.findchildcarestanislaus.org.