It's the middle of the night. The kids are asleep but these parents are camped outside Martin Early Learning Center. "Our children will be inschool on August 18th because we are dedicated parents we've been here since two in the morning," says parent Lamphia Shaw.
These parents want to ensure their children a seat in Lubbock ISD's Head Start Program. Director of the program Della Frye says, it's designed to give three and 4-year-olds an advantage before entering kindergarden. "We're doing educational things like beginning reading and language skills and beginning mathematics and also those very important social skills that children need to develop before they go on to kindergarden."
Dozens of parents say spending hours waiting in line they say is a small price to pay for giving their children a headstart on their education. "What that tells me is we've got parents who are really excited about getting their children in school, getting them signed up and gfetting that educational career started off with a bang," says Frye.
But because of state budget cuts openings are limited. Sixty spots were available for Lubbock 3-year-olds, but those spots were filled within hours. A frustrating situation for parents like Byron Nelson. "Unfortunately my little girl is three. I think they should have more positions for 3-year-olds," says Byron.
Byron may have to wait until next year to enroll his daughter, Brenae, but parents who have had children in the program say it's worth it.
Abigail Valdez put 4-year-old Desiree through the program last year and after seeing a big improvement in desiree she's enrolling her second child. "They do alot of things and it's a lot of learning. I notice that like some of my friends have children around her age and they say wow she can talk so well and she knows this and she knows her ABC's," says Abigail.
"The earlier you intervene with a child, the bigger the difference it makes, not only immediately but also down that child's educational career," says Frye.
An important career these parents say is worth the extra time. Registration for the head-start program will continue through next week. And while all the three year old spots are taken, you can sign up on a waiting list. Also, there are still spots for pre-k available. For more information, call the Head Start Program at (806) 766-1600.