Rocky Mountain SER (Service, Employment, Redevelopment ) operates and issues grants to four non- profit organizations and divisions: Rocky Mountain Head Start Program, Migrant Seasonal Head Start Program, Migrant Farm Worker Program and their Community Service Division. Since 1980, low income and disadvantaged families have been given opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have through these nonprofits. Families in Denver, Southern Colorado, San Luis Valley and on the Western Slope are eligible for their services through RMSER.
Rocky Mountain Head Start
“Head Start is an early childhood education program. I want people to know that: Head Start is not daycare,” says Stormy Killpack, System Administrator. Each of their 137 classrooms across Colorado is staffed with degreed teachers with B.A.’s in Early Childhood Education. ” Head Start prepares children for kindergarten by enhancing the social and cognitive development of a child through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services” adds Stormy.
Rocky Mountain SER is funded for 2,272 three and four year olds. Families can be income eligible, however children who are not in low income families can benefit from the program as well. Families can apply and their children will be added to a waitlist. The program can accept 10 % of children in whose families exceed the federal poverty guidelines. Head Start’s selection criteria to screen and score children is based on need. The children who are in most need are enrolled first, followed by 100-130% then over income” says Stormy.
Head Start works with families to improve the health of children now and for the future. Screening and follow-up for health, hearing, vision and dental services are tracked by our trained staff to ensure all children are up-to-date. “All you have to do is go to the classroom and it makes you so happy,” says Stormy of the Head Start Programs.
Migrant Seasonal Head Start Program
The Migrant Season Head Start program is federally funded to serve 180 migrant children (ages 6 weeks to 5 years old) and their families in Adams, Larimer, Mesa, Montrose and Weld Counties. The program serves families whose income meets federal poverty guidelines and who migrate for the purpose of engaging in agricultural employment. Migrant Season Head Start provides education to children while their parents work in agricultural fields; picking and harvesting the crops that is in season. Seasonal workers would otherwise be forced to take their children with them in the fields in the hot sun.
This year, 180 children participated in this program. That is 180 children that would have been in the fields of farms if it were not for the Migrant Seasonal Head Start Program. This program’s staff is actively out walking through fields recruiting families that are in need. The staff hands-out brochures with information on the program to educate the farm workers on the services that are available to the families. This program is seasonal and usually run from May to October. After the season is over, the families will migrate to wherever crops are in season next.
Reona, an ERSEA Coordinator, and a true testament to the program’s success, was enrolled in a Head Start program as a child. Reona’s parents worked in orange and grapefruit farms in Florida. It was because of the Head Start program in Florida that she was enrolled in a classroom, learning early childhood education instead of having to accompany her parents in the fields they worked. “We service the entire family- through parent engagement. The Family Advocate works with families on goals. One of those goals might be earning their GED, attending college, obtaining a job, , medical, and any other needs that the families may have; then we help measure and obtain those goals throughout the year,” says Reona. This program, as with traditional Head Start, is far more than childcare. Just a few weeks ago, Reona was walking fields in Greely to find families in need of help. “It is a gratifying experience – knowing that we are helping families in their community,” she says.
Migrant Farm Worker Program
This program provides free services for migrant and seasonal farm workers (MSFWs) through the US Department of Labor. These services include training to prepare MSFWs for jobs offering higher wages along with more stable employment outlooks, as well as, providing them with such support services as nutrition, health, childcare and temporary shelter.
The 167 National Farmworker Jobs Program is a program that is solely offered by RMSER throughout Colorado. As the grantee of this program, RMSER offers employment, training and support services to low income Migrant/Seasonal Farmworkers throughout rural Colorado. In addition to both RMSER’s Southeast and South Central Regional local Workforce Centers offering 167 services, the program also provides services in other rural counties where there is a significant population of farmworkers residing or locally employed.
Reona recalls a great success story from the program. Reona was a Family Advocate for a migrant family whose last baby was born in the United States. “We helped a young child- we thought from the beginning something was wrong. The more I talked to the mother, and teachers worked with this student; the more we became aware and realized that something was wrong with the child. The teacher and I were looking and watching the child and how the child interacted.” With his family migrating back and forth, it was very hard to get documentation needed to get him assistance. After two years of hard work, Reona and the RMSER team was able to get the child, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, medicaide, disability and an Individual Education Program. “Many, many students have success stories,” adds Reona.
Community Services Division
All Youth Service programs are funded solely by donations and fees. Youth programs provide integrated athletic, educational, and social programs. All programs work to enhance self-confidence, build moral character, and develop personal goals.
With support from the Scottish Rite Foundation, the Treasure Chest Program provides education and training for children and their families (siblings and parents) in a home based environment. The Treasure Chest Program provides early identification and intervention for children with possible developmental delays. The child’s development is screened and reviewed with parents. Additionally, school readiness is supported through early learning within the home.
The Treasure Chest Tubs are composed of developmentally appropriate materials that help strengthen the child’s growth and development. Each tub contains activities that are based on common themes.
Participation by the parents is an essential component of this program. The Early Literacy Coordinator will review the materials with the parents once a month, during their scheduled home visits. The parents then guide their children through these activities.
Stormy has known and worked with our president, Mark, since before he started Networks Unlimited. She told us she has a coffee cup from the company he was at previously. After all this time, Networks Unlimited’s partnership with Rocky Mountain SER comes down to one thing: trust. Stormy leaves her network in the hands Networks Unlimited when she is gone. Any computer and other equipment they need, they order from us. Recently, our team completed a server move for RMSER and built their network. We are happy and grateful to provide the technology to empower this great group of people that serve those in need.