CPCD/Head Start celebrates 20th year

       The Community Partnership for Child Development (CPCD) marked its 20th anniversary in April - although Head Start in El Paso County goes all the way back to the federal program's inception in 1965.
       CPCD, a non-profit entity headquartered in recent years at 2330 Robinson St., recounted some of the Head Start history during a celebratory event at the agency April 17. The initial enrollment in 1965 was 20, rising to 280 in 1988 (CPCD's first year as program grantee) and more than 1,600 this year, revealed Jeff Wenzel, past board member and past board chair.
       He also gave numbers indicating just the growth of CPCD in 20 years.
  • Staff: 1988 - 45; today - more than 300.
  • Budget: 1988 - $1.2 million; today - “twelve and a half times that.”
  • Partners: 1988 - two school districts and a “handful” of other partners; today - 6 school district and more than 25 other partners.
           “And our biggest and most important number,” Wenzel said, ”the 20,000 graduates of our CPCD classrooms.”
           On the Westside, CPCD host sites are at Pike and Ivywild elementaries. Other students are taught in the two CPCD classrooms on Robinson Street, by agreement with Midland Elementary School, which does not have classroom space for preschoolers, Green said.
           The program starts addressing children's issues even at the pre-natal stage, she added. Between Early Head Start and Head Start, CPCD is open to children up to age 5.
           Through the early years, as Head Start grew in El Paso County, it had various federal grantees and operational locations, Wenzel explained in his talk.
           “In the mid 1980s, Catholic Community Services began recognizing the Head Start program was growing to a scale that needed a single-purpose non-profit to support it. At about the same time, the Head Start Policy Council and board members began exploring how to posture the organization to expand programs,” Wenzel said.
           In November 1987, CPCD was officially incorporated by the state, and in January 1988 it received the Head Start grant. The agency moved to the 2330 Robinson St. building in 1998, then added 2340 Robinson in 2004.
           “As I dug through the archives and first learned of this story, I thought of what a very bold step this was-to break away from a system that was working, to stand up a new business and incorporate it without any guarantee of securing the end goal, then build a business plan and essentially bid on a contract,” Wenzel said. “And then, when they got the grant, they had to hope their plan would work.
           “I asked myself if I would have had the vision and the courage to take such a step. I guess we should just be thankful that Dr. Stephen Tucker, Barbara Umstaddt, J. Michael Turley and other members of the first CPCD Board of Directors had the vision and the courage and seized the opportunity.”
           Noreen Landis-Tyson, the current president and CEO, is a 16-year employee and has been in the top position for six years. She stated her goal at the 20th anniversary get-together: to provide early-childhood programs to all needy children.
           “For every child who gets on a CPCD Head Start bus or attends preschool at their neighborhood school, one child is left standing on the curb waiting for his turn,” Landis said. “Most of the time, his turn never comes, and so that child starts school without the skills needed to succeed and usually never catches up.”

    Westside Pioneer article