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I do not think that "Mallard Fillmore" (Gazette cartoon, March 31 and April 1) or Tinsley, his writer, have ever visited a Head Start program.

Recently I was invited to spend a couple of hours at our Billings Head Start School out by North Park. What an eye-opener to be with a few of their 4-year-olds at lunch time and to watch them on the playground.

This school has 260 3- and 4-year-olds from below poverty homes. There are another 100 at five area sites. However, there are another 160 who qualify, but there is no space for them. The program is not only educational. Dental and health treatments are given regularly because their families have no insurance. Two meals are provided each day for each class. Parents are offered GED and parenting classes.

Many middle-income families have children in preschools to prepare them for public schools. Children not in preschool or Head Start are often a year behind when they start kindergarten.

Economists have calculated that for every dollar invested in preschool for at-risk children brings an $8-$9 return to society.

Head Start is a Billings jewel. If you would like verification, please call 245-7233 and ask for a tour.

Rev. Kenneth Crouch

Billings

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