Each year in Arkansas, over 10,000 young children and their families, and some pregnant women, receive a comprehensive array of quality early childhood services through Early Head Start and Head Start (EHS/HS). The programs emphasize the role of parents as their child's first and most important teacher and help build relationships with families to support child and family-well-being. EHS/HS programs provide a learning environment that supports children's growth in multiple areas: social emotional, physical, language, cognitive, literacy, and math.
The Arkansas Head Start State Collaboration Office (HSSCO) provides training and other supports to EHS/HS programs around the state and has developed several efforts to strengthen their work on early literacy, including an annual read-a-thon to engage family members in reading to children at the Head Start centers, enrolling families in Dolly Partonﾒs Imagination Library, and a summer book drive in partnership with Books-a-Million. HSSCO also wrote a book and produced a companion video called ﾓReading is Electric.ﾔ
These efforts are beginning to pay off. During the 2015-2016 school year, the percentage of Head Start students assessed as meeting or exceeding expectations on literacy increased from 70 percent in the fall to 86 percent in the spring. The percentage of children exceeding expectations increased from 14 percent to 26 percent.