The center is dedicated to enhancing childhood development and offers a unique learning opportunity for Texas Tech students
The Center for Early Head Start (CEHS) is an initiative within the College of Human Sciences that provides child development and family support services to approximately 100 Lubbock families with children from zero to three years of age. CEHS is able to offer their services free of charge, year-round, through federal funding from the Department of Health and Human Services.
“I think the center impacts the community by being a support to the surrounding areas,” Early Childhood Education alumna and CEHS education manager Rachel Johnston said. “There is a lot of need for programs like the Center for Early Head Start who provide comprehensive care. This enables parents to provide for their families and further their education. Students have the opportunity to work with children from lower socio-economic levels and diverse backgrounds.”
The center provides full time childcare, home visits to pregnant mothers and young families, hot nutritious meals, developmental and health screenings, and parent education to qualifying families. There is a home-based program and a center-based program within the center. The home-based program consists of weekly one and half hour home visits and weekly socialization to pregnant women and children ages zero to three. The center-based program offers childcare at the center for children ages six weeks to three years.
Early Childhood Education students in the college of human sciences are given the opportunity to work in the center to gain experience in their field.
“Class at the center was an unforgettable semester,” Early Childhood Education alumna Shannon Hamm said. “Working with the students at the center and growing with them was very special and helped me grow as an educator. Professionally, I was given the opportunity to learn how to make formal observations on a child's abilities and how to apply those observations into an individualized plan.”
Hamm now works as a teacher and said she reflects on her experience at the center often because it taught her skills that she uses daily as an early childhood teacher.
“Based on my experience, I believe that the center has a significant impact on the community,” Hamm said. “The parents, teachers, and director all worked closely together to do what was best for each student. Observing these relationships proved to me that each staff member truly cared about the betterment of the students.”
Shannon Holland, another Early Childhood Education alumna, worked at CEHS for two and a half years following her first class in the center. Holland said that working at the center taught her to be intentional with her plans, actions, and speech, and taught her how to meet her students where they are.
“One of my favorite memories of my time at CEHS was watching one of the babies in my care crawl for the first time,” Holland said. “Getting to be a part of big milestones for children was an honor I did not take lightly. It was an absolutely beautiful moment that nearly moved me to tears.”
Holland said that the center instilled in her the value of a positive atmosphere and a strong team in the workplace. Through the hard work of everyone at the center, CEHS can achieve its goal of enhancing holistic growth and development of participating children, positive child adult interactions, and supporting caregivers.