Following the restoration of early education funding and allocation, Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Inc. (RurAL CAP) prepares to open doors to 22 of 24 Head Start sites on Sept. 3, with delayed starts at two facilities and two classrooms.
The delayed starts are a result of 10 staff positions that were vacated due to budget uncertainty. Kake and Kluti Kaah facilities will remain closed until staff positions are filled. Kodiak and Ketchikan sites are delaying the start of one classroom each. RurAL CAP is working to fill these staff positions, and sites will reopen as qualified teachers are hired.
“We are very excited to kick this school year off by welcoming most of our teachers and kiddos back for another year,” said Kristin Ramstad, RurAL CAP Child Development Division Director. “Unfortunately, we’ve lost a combined 63 years of experience in staff who left RurAL CAP because of the budget turmoil.
“DEED [Alaska Department of Education and Early Development] and our statewide partners have been very supportive in the efforts to maintain services to every community we currently serve,” Ramstad said. “We are actively working to fill positions, so we are able to open all our doors as soon as possible.”
RurAL CAP’s Parents as Teachers home visiting program is also experiencing a delayed start in Haines and Kodiak as DEED prepares for the release of a Request for Applications. Parents as Teachers is an early childhood parent education and family support program designed to empower parents to give their children the best possible start in life. Programming for this whole-family service will be restored following the release of funding availability.
Since 1965, RurAL CAP has provided Head Start programming statewide, a critical family-centered early learning service promoting the health and development of young children in rural and urban Alaska.
Head Start has grown to become the largest early childhood program in the state serving children from birth to age five. Services provided by Head Start extend beyond academic instruction. The program also provides meals, social services, parenting and family services, immunizations, and health screenings alongside a consistent, warm, and safe environment. Children who participate in early childhood programming are less likely to be arrested, more likely to graduate, and less likely to struggle with substance abuse as adults.
“Early learning through Head Start has supported the healthy development of Alaska Native youth for generations,” said Patrick M. Anderson, RurAL CAP Chief Executive Officer. “We are grateful for the opportunity to promote early education, health and wellness, and workforce development across low-income Alaskan communities.”
Governed by a 24-member Board of Directors representing the public sector, the private sector, and the different regions of rural Alaska, RurAL CAP is a private, statewide, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. With a mission to empower low-income Alaskans through advocacy, education, affordable housing and direct services that respect Alaskan’s unique values and cultures, RurAL CAP collaborates with community partners to ensure that all Alaskans have access to the vital services needed to promote the vision of Healthy People, Sustainable Communities, Vibrant Cultures.