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Enrollment for fall classes with federally and state-funded preschool programs for low-income families opened last week and will remain open throughout the year.

Lower Columbia College Head Start, Early Head Start and ECEAP (Early Childhood Education Assistance Program) offer early childhood education programs, family home visits, social services, medical and dental screening, and nutrition and mental health services. All services through the program are free for qualifying families.

“Our mission is to serve children with the greatest needs,” said LCC Head Start Director Mindy Leasure in a prepared statement last week.

According to the release, the general criteria for eligibility are children with family income below the federal poverty line ($28,325 for a family of four); children whose families receive food stamps for social security income; children in foster care, regardless of family income; children who are homeless; and children who have disabilities and are eligible for special education and related services.

Generally, the program has about 280 to 300 open spots across its classrooms in Kelso, Longview and Castle Rock, said LCC Head Start spokesman Paul Youmans. However, families can continue to apply for classes even after all spots are filled. Those children are placed on a waitlist in case a spot opens up during the regular school year.

To enroll, parents should call the Lower Columbia College office at 360-442-2800, visit the Head Start office at the LCC campus (1720 20th Ave.) or go online to www.lowercolumbia.edu/head-start. Classes begin in early September.

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