It's a program with roots in Missoula almost 50 years old, and now the Missoula Head Start organization is asking for your help. We dug deeper today to see what will happen when they lose one of their four locations in Missoula.
The Head Start program at Target Range School won't be there much longer. Starting this September the program will need to find a new home, because Target Range is growing.
Target Range Elementary Principal Luke Laslovich said, "Like many schools at this time, we are needing more and more of our classroom space for other classroom needs."
Currently the Head Start program operates two preschool classes at Target Range for children ages 3 and 4. Students can either be full or half-time Monday through Thursday, and the program also provides meals.
Head Start is entirely government-funded and has a waiting list in Missoula right now of almost 100 kids.
"I just think it's a really good program. It's really sad it's not going to be at this school next year. Because this one is really close to our house," said Head Start parent Brandi Ortega.
The only qualification to enroll in Head Start is for parents to be at or below the national poverty income level. For a family of two, this means making no more than $15,510 a year.
In the last month, Head Start facilitators have viewed close to 30 locations; unfortunately none have been a match for a new home.
School administrators say 17 square feet is needed per student, so a typical classroom accommodates about only 17 kids. A new facility must also have a fenced playground with 35 square feet per child and certain other restrictions.
If the Target Range Head Start program does not find a new home by fall, parents only choice will be an at-home version of Head Start.
Laslovich said, "We still want to work with them because they provide a great service for the kids in our community and all of Missoula."
He added while he's sad to see Head Start leave, it means Target Range School can provide more programs for its' students, like music and orchestra.