A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Ribbon-cutting held for grand re-opening of NKCAC’s renovated Newport Head Start — ‘all about kids’

By Patricia A. Scheyer
NKyTribune reporter

“Every. single. person. matters.”

Campbell County Judge Executive Steve Pendery put emphasis on every word as he led off the impressive list of speakers who spoke at the grand re-opening of the Newport Head Start and Community Action Commission Tuesday.

“I, like many of you, am a parent,” Pendery went on. “I think the greatest treasure that you’ve ever been given in your life is a child. And not only do we have the responsibility as individuals to look after them, and make sure they are smarter, better looking, and more successful than we are, we also have to look after all the children in our society, because again and particularly in the current circumstances, because there doesn’t seem to be enough people to do anything, every single person matters.”

Ribbon-cutting for the Head Start CAC renovated building with Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman and NKCAC Executive Director Catrena Bowman manning the scissors. (Photos by Patricia Scheyer/NKyTribune)

Pendery pointed out that there are workforce problems across the country, but in Northern Kentucky it is particularly acute. He said they are meeting in large groups to try to figure out what to do, and in the course of those meetings they are re-discovering insights of what Head Start knew all along, that these children are the workforce of the future, and the building blocks of a work force and community and a nation that are initiated at Head Start, are crucially important to a current work force and community. He congratulated everyone who were involved with the production of the beautifully renovated facility, and declared that “we can make America great again!”

Kenton County Judge Executive Kris Knochelmann had been a board member and chairman of the board of CAC about 25 years ago, when he was 19. and he said he loves the mission and results of the CAC and Head Start.

NKCAC’s Catrena Bowman and Eric Brown, Browne Engineering.

“It’s all about the kids,” he said. “It’s all about the kids, it’s all about the families, and the longterm success of the program.”

He said the program was great 25 years ago, and they have done nothing but improve over the years. He congratulated all the people who were involved with the renovation, and reminded people that no one knows what these children can do when they grow up, and no one knows exactly what influences a child to grow up and be a leader in the community, but it does matter that they are exposed to the opportunities.

The CAC began in this country in 1965, according to Newport Commissioner Julie Smith-Morrow, and there are 11 centers in Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Pendleton counties. The center serves 120 children and their families every year. She said the renovation cost $3.2 million, and was from a federal grant.

“What is extremely impressive is that during this entire renovation, the center has kept the needs of the children and families as the highest priority,” Smith-Morrow said. “They served the children well, locating them in other buildings, but not skipping a beat for the entire time of renovation.”

Kentucky Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman spoke next, acknowledging that early childhood education is extremely important. She pointed out that her department has worked very hard to get the opportunity to start school for every four-year-old in the state.

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman

“In Kentucky for the past five years, kindergarten readiness rates have hovered around fifty percent,” she explained. “That means, half of the kids walking through the door on their first day of kindergarten aren’t prepared. Half. Nine in ten children in kindergarten will start behind the 8 ball, and stay behind the 8 ball into the third grade. And you know how we forecast prison populations in Kentucky, right? Third grade literacy rates. So when we invest in kids today, we don’t have to pay for adults tomorrow.

She praised Head Start for being a critical foundational start for children and thanked everyone, calling them the true embodiment of Team Kentucky.

The center, which is located on West Ninth Street in Newport, provides an established program that continues to grow in response to the needs of the community by providing several comprehensive services to meet the needs of pre-school aged children from economically disadvantaged families and children with disabilities.

The CAC also helps families with assistance with utilities when they need it.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment