CAC requests pupil reduction

STEUBENVILLE – The Jefferson County Community Action Council board of trustees agreed to request a reduction in the number of children for the Head Start program, citing a need “to be realistic about our program.”

Barb West, chief executive officer of the CAC, said the local Head Start program currently has a goal of 249 children but rarely reaches that number.

“We have been struggling to reach the 249 children goal. And with the reduction of 30 children, our Head Start would like to maintain the dollars to update necessary equipment and training for technology. We also plan to add duties to our 14 teacher assistants and would call them teacher assistants/family advocates,” explained West.

“Our Head Start agency has struggled to locate licensable space in areas where families are located but not presently served. And we continue to work to find bus drivers for the Head Start transportation program,” added West.

She also reported the Administration for Children & Families has closed previously identified findings issued in 2012 to the Jefferson County Head Start program.

“We dealt with the issues raised by a review, and the agency told us no corrective action is required,” noted West.

In other business Wednesday afternoon, the CAC trustees approved a $794,425 contract with the Belmont County Department of Job and Family Services for housing the Business Resource Network.

According to West, the Jefferson County CAC is serving as the employer for six BRN employees who will be headquartered in the CAC offices in Steubenville.

“The manager and administrative assistant have been hired. Four account executives will also be hired for their respective counties but they will have office space here in Steubenville,” said West.

According to the Business Resource Network website, the BRN uses a unique approach to help businesses survive and grow. It works closely with them to identify and access a host of business services with as little red tape as possible. The BRN currently operates in several counties in Ohio and now is starting operations in Jefferson, Harrison, Belmont and Carroll counties.

“The BRN partnership targets businesses with growth potential as well as those facing challenges. It then conducts in-depth interviews with the owners and managers of the businesses. After learning a business’s goals and the obstacles it may be facing, BRN Partners present the business with a package of suggested incentives, technical assistance, training and other programs designed specifically for that business. This all happens through a single point of contact, the BRN account executive, assuring tight coordination of services and minimal bureaucracy. There is no charge for the interview and proposal and many services are available at no cost,” noted the website.

The trustees also approved the 2014 application of $18,000 for the United Way of Jefferson County.

“Our funding is for the Family at Risk of Homelessness program. Last year we applied for $20,000 and served 42 families, including 65 adults and 85 children in 2012,” West said.

The trustees approved a new vacation policy for all full-time and part-time CAC employees.

West also announced the Jefferson County Head Start program will hold an open house at its centers starting at 9 a.m. on April 11.