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Head Start program under new leadership

The Head Start program has been in the community for nearly 50 years and seen multiple organizations take over.

Now, the program will have a more concrete guidance from Enrichment Services Program (ESP), which is the new Head Start grantee for Troup County.

The agency, headquartered in Columbus and led by Chief Executive Officer Belva Dorsey, officially began providing services in Troup, Meriwether and Harris Counties in September.

ESP’s current early childhood education programs include Early Head Start, Head Start, Pre-K and Child Care Partnerships (CCP).

The programs prepare infants, preschoolers, and their families to live successful lives by providing education, health, nutrition and family support services.

On Thursday, ESP held an open house at Hills and Dales to meet with local non-profits and community leaders.

“We have been a Head Start provider for over 15 years, and now we’re expanding our services into this area,” Dorsey said. “We provide comprehensive services that allow us to serve children and their entire family. We are a community action agency. We were founded to address the causes and conditions of poverty.”

Kevin Thomas, director of the Department of Early Childhood and Family Services, said ESP was excited about the expansion into West Georgia to further the organization’s mission.

“We also look forward to developing integral collaborative partnerships within the community as we serve the children and families of Troup, Meriwether and Harris counties,” Thomas said.

ESP plans to serve an additional 411 children to the 954 children it serves in Muscogee, Chattahoochee, Clay, Quitman, Stewart and Talbot counties in Georgia and Russell County in Alabama.

Currently, ESP has approximately 300 employees and has hired just over 100 employees with the expansion.

Belva said that applications are being accepted for children ages birth to five years old for the 2020-2021 school year. For more information, contact Jamie Thomas, director of community services at (706) 221-6704, jthomas@espcaa.org.