News & Events
UICS strives to build bridges of opportunity through quality early learning and family engagement. During the 2020-2021 program year, these bridges of opportunity have been expanded beyond the original UICS-St. Mark Center in the 12th Street Corridor. Families now also have the option of attending UICS-Metro Center at 39th and Troost/Midtown KC or UICS-North Center in Pleasant Valley, MO/Northland KC. UICS-St. Mark and Metro Centers offer an arts-infused environment, with this emphasis continuing at the newest UICS-North Center. All three sites further the vision of UICS to offer opportunities for children and families across the Greater Kansas City region to flourish. For more information about UICS and services available at the various locations, visit www.uicskc.org.
Head Start Happenings
Remembering Sister Corita Bussanmas
At the age of 87, Sister Corita Bussanmas passed away on Saturday, March 27, 2021. Bussanmas was the co-founder of Operation Breakthrough. Operation Breakthrough is a direct service provider for early childhood services in partnership with the MARC Head Start program.
Bussanmas lived a life of service. In 1967, she moved to Kansas City, Missouri, to serve as the principal of St. Vincent’s Catholic School, located at East 31st Street and Flora Avenue. In 1971, Sister Berta Sailer and Sister Bussanmas co-founded Operation Breakthrough to provide child care services to working parents.
After decades of advocating for the city’s poorest children, Bussanmas retired in 2013. By that year, Operation Breakthrough was serving more than 500 children per year, many from families who lived below the poverty line. Currently, 700 children attend classes every day at the Operation Breakthroug education center.
Thank you for your service, Sister Bussanmas. We appreciate your leadership in the community and the partnership you helped foster between MARC’s Head Start program and Operation Breakthrough.
MARC Head Start celebrates National Parent Leadership Month
February is National Parent Leadership Month. The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) Head Start Program and corresponding direct service providers — including school districts and community early learning centers — know that parents are some of our best community partners.
As part of MARC’s Head Start Program, parents and caregivers lead parent cafés and the Head Start Policy Council. Parents and caregivers who attend parent cafés come together every month because they have a shared commitment to improving their own lives and the lives of their children. These parents and caregivers also share a desire to improve their families and communities. Parent cafés help parents build resilience and community ties. It’s through this network that parents can learn new parenting skills and build supports for times of need.
This February, MARC is highlighting four parents who regularly attend parent cafés and serve as leaders. These parents support their peers, help their children thrive and improve their communities:
- "Parent cafés have modeled a behavior of patience and a platform for pure kindness. Parent cafés have also taught me to be more aware of my support systems and how to be resilient. This support encourages me to treat the next person I meet with kindness and understanding. Head Start also helped me become more confident. I am becoming more educated and researching new opportunities to support my family and my community." -Aubrynn Good-Brown
- “Head Start gave me the confidence to know I am doing what is right for my child and my family. Parent cafés taught me that no matter where you come from, when you have children they come first. I’ve met people with different backgrounds and life experiences and, over time, we become a support network for each other.” -Bethaney Volkman
- “The parent café’s give me confidence to speak up for myself, my child and others. It also reminds me that taking care of myself isn’t selfish. Head Start and parent cafés taught me that I’m not alone. Other parents are going through similar situations. Head Start has equipped me to move about in my community with all of the tools needed to be successful.” -Anneasyka Roston
- “I feel as though Head Start gave me a path to sharpen my leadership skills. It gave me a path to become a more ardent servant for my community. By attending parent cafe's, I have learned about my community and the people who live around me. It has given me an everlasting impression of the good that can be accomplished if we all work together.” -Christopher Thornton
Parents Anonymous, a nonprofit dedicated to providing support for parents and preventing adverse childhood experiences, started National Parent Leadership Month as an opportunity to show appreciation to parents, especially those who work to improve the lives of their families, neighbors and communities. MARC recognizes and acknowledges that parents and caregivers are essential allies in our collective efforts to improve educational outcomes and build resilient communities.
New Funding to Support Quality Improvement Initiatives
The Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families awarded Quality Improvement funds to Head Start Grantees in 2020. The intent of the funds is to enhance program efforts and activities that help better incorporate a trauma-informed approach that will support children, families, and staff impacted by adverse experiences. Grantees have the flexibility to use the Quality Improvement funds to meet the grantees’ most pressing local needs, consistent with the Head Start Act. In coordination with its partners, MARC Head Start’s funding is being targeted to assist our network partners in their implementation of trauma-informed care and social and emotional curriculum. This will be done through direct classroom support for our Tier 1 and 2 direct service providers including an additional contracted behavior interventionist, disability support contractor, and mental health contractor. Additional curriculum training and material supports will also be provided. For our Tier 3 direct service providers, funds will be used for additional mental health, educational coaching and classroom assistant supports.
Missouri Head Start Programs Highlighted in CDC Report
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report highlighting Head Start’s effective response in managing the spread of COVID-19. The study, which included Head Start grantees in Missouri, found programs have been successful at implementing CDC-recommended guidance and other mitigation strategies that could serve as a model for the early care and education system across the country. The report also validated the critical role that increased funding, provided through the CARES Act, played in enabling Head Start programs to support families in a safe, healthy manner
The study, which included Head Start grantees in Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Maine, Missouri, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin, noted several factors contributing to successful implementation of CDC-recommended guidelines that helped to prevent COVID-19 transmission among children and staff members, including:
- Following the lead of experts and their recommendations;
- Funding programs through the CARES Act to enable necessary adaptations;
- Providing flexibility and support for Head Start staff, including flexible medical leave, reimbursement for health care costs, remote work options, and flexible hours;
- Taking a nimble, multi-pronged approach that evolves as circumstances change; and
- Conducting multi-faceted, ongoing communication with consistent messaging among program administrators, parents and caregivers, teachers, and other staff members, as well as continuous engagement with community partners.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that early care and education is an essential part of communities. This report shines a light on the important work that has been done by Head Start programs to ensure that families and their young children have continued support.
The CDC report can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6949e3.htm
Share Your Early Learning Story
MARC's Early Learning Department and its Workforce Development Work Group want to hear your early learning story. We recognize that access to high-quality early childhood education programs can improve the lives of children and families. These programs also enrich the lives of educators and play an essential role in communities. High-quality early childhood programs provide a safe, nurturing space for children to thrive and increase parental participation in the workforce. This work group will gather stories to deepen its understanding of the benefits, opportunities and challenges facing early learning professionals, families and community members in the field.
Here is where you come in. We want to hear from you – providers, families, and community members alike. For each category, we have three simple questions so we can learn more about your experience. We also have included some optional questions about demographics.
Please click on the link below that best represents your background to get started.