CAMDEN- The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) awarded Center For Family Services' (CFS) Head Start program $255,758 in funding for twenty-five direct service AmeriCorps State and National members. AmeriCorps volunteers will comprise a “School Readiness Corps” that will serve in the classrooms and in the community to prepare children for success in kindergarten and beyond.
“The addition of AmeriCorps State and National volunteers in our classrooms will not only increase children’s readiness for kindergarten by providing more individualized attention to each student and their parents, but also help in spreading the word about the program to the community,” states Merilee Rutolo, CFS Head Start Director. “We also see this as a great opportunity for future teachers. Volunteering in a Head Start classroom will help prepare them for a career in early childhood education.”
AmeriCorps State and National is a division of The Corporation for National and Community Service. The program supports a wide range of local service programs that engage thousands of Americans in intensive community service each year. Volunteers tackle critical community needs in education, public safety, health, and environmental organizations. Members are compensated with a stipend, health benefits, and an education award.
The partnership between AmeriCorps and the CFS Head Start will lower the student teacher ratios in Head Start classrooms, as well as increase the number of classroom hours available to youth. This increase in high intensity, directed instruction will improve the program’s ability to prepare disadvantaged children for academic success. AmeriCorps members will encourage children to explore books, language, and math, mentor children in learning basic skills, and praise children for gains in knowledge, all helping to prepare students for later academic success. AmeriCorps members will also work to increase community awareness of the Head Start and improve parent’s capacity to be active participants in their children’s educations.
Center For Family Services is currently the provider of Head Start in both Camden City and Camden County serving over 700 students each year. AmeriCorps members will be placed throughout CFS' ten Head Start sites in both full and part time volunteer opportunities.