EDITOR'S NOTE: The United Way of Dodge City began its annual campaign on Sept. 1. The campaign will run until Feb. 14. In light of United Way's efforts to raise funds for charitable organizations in Dodge City, the Daily Globe will be profiling these organizations. This week's organization is Bright Beginnings Head Start.

For strong brain development, it is essential for children to receive positive stimulation at a young age. In light of this fact, the Bright Beginnings Head Start program offers a vibrant preschool setting for those aged three to five. In the program, certified teachers help preschoolers prepare for Kindergarten. The program also offers services to the families of young children, providing parent meetings, adult education classes, support with goal setting and connection to resources. “The demands on our kids once they hit elementary school are very high,” said Tami Knedler, principal director for Bright Beginnings Head Start. “… We help fill a lot of gaps that are there when families are struggling to make ends meet.” The Head Start grant has been active since the 1960s. Aside from the United Way, the program has grants from the state of Kansas, state preschool programs and the migrant family literacy program. Through a Building Blocks grant received this year, Bright Beginnings Head Start has been able to expand certain services including the literacy bus, home visits, before and after school care, and learn and play groups. This year the school district has around 550 Kindergarteners. On average around 300 are sent from Bright Beginnings. Funds received from the United Way are used for the education program and for nutritious meals and snacks.