La Feria News

Head Start Program Expands in Santa Maria

La Feria Volunteer Firemen Share in Training


The La Feria Volunteer Fire Department provided an exciting day last week for the kids enrolled in the Santa Maria Head Start Program. It was part of their “hands-on” education designed to broaden the horizons of young people preparing for their future.

The students responded to the questions and demonstrations of the firemen with shouts, raised hands, and more questions. It was all part of the expanded services being augmented by the Santa Maria I.S.D.

The Head Start Program at Santa Maria I.S.D provides benefits for youngsters and their families that they couldn’t otherwise have known according to Violet Martinez, a 12-year worker with the program in Santa Maria. “Our non-profit day care program is federally funded and serves low-income families in many ways,” Martinez said.


The program at Santa Maria is rather unique: It parallels the Pre-K 3 and Pre-K 4 classes. “The kids attend half the day with us at Head Start; then, go to their public school Pre-K classes,” she continued, adding that the kids are picked up early in the morning and are returned home in the afternoon in specially-designated Head Start busses.

On arriving at school, they are given a full-breakfast before classes. The program also provides a nourishing lunch at noon, and the kids are provided a third meal before returning home in the evening. The transportation and meals are paid for by federal funds. Sometimes, it is the only full meal of the day.

These free services for those who meet the income requirements receive, not only free transportation and three meals, but also free education, books, school supplies, notebooks and art materials they’ll use in their classes. Martinez noted that not all Head Start Programs provide the free transportation and three meals to the enrollees as Santa Maria does.

To further help the disadvantaged students and their families, Santa Maria collaborates with outside agencies to make it easy for them. “For example,” she said, “we provide referrals for enrolling in food stamp programs, housing assistance, directions to the unemployment office for the parents–and even help from the Texas Attorney General’s office when there is a failure to get child support from a delinquent ex-spouse.

For the parents, the program includes more help including training to deal with “bullies,” drug awareness, stress relief, financial management, nutrition. “If the parent so wishes,” she said, “we offer a pathway for them to get their G.E.D. or Continuous Education certificates.”

As the firemen of the La Feria Volunteer Fire Department climbed aboard their units and headed back to La Feria, the kids and their teachers waved goodbye; the firemen waved back. The volunteer firefighters enjoyed their role as instructors, and were gratified for having been a part of the expanded Head Start program at Santa Maria I.S.D.

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