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Celebration Marks Headstart Reopening

September 13, 1997|DARRELL SATZMAN

The Latin American Civic Assn. is inviting the community to El Cariso Regional Park on Monday for the reopening of its Sylmar Headstart center, which was closed after the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

"We will celebrate the return not only of our Sylmar site, but the ability to serve the needs of the children and their families in the area," said Irene Tovar, executive director of LACA.

Teachers and aides assigned to the new center have been working since Monday to transform a recently purchased portable building at El Cariso into two classrooms designed to serve 76 children between the ages of 3 and 5.

"Everything is set up to the children's size. It's not just to be cute, but to show the children that this place is for them," Tovar said. "That's very important for them to develop their self-esteem and sense of self-worth."

The center, which was established in 1988, was forced to move from its original location at the Sylmar Community Church because of earthquake damage.

With 30 sites and more than 1,400 children enrolled in its programs, LACA is the largest Headstart agency in the San Fernando Valley.

Administered by the county and funded through federal grants, Headstart offers free preschool instruction for qualified children. In addition to the educational aspect of the program, Headstart provides free lunches and free medical and dental care, as well as family counseling and other social services.

Several area political leaders are expected to attend the reopening, including Rep. Howard Berman (D-Mission Hills), Assemblyman Tony Cardenas (D-Sylmar) and Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon.

A number of openings in the program are still available, Tovar said. For more information, call LACA at (818) 361-8641, Ext. 139.

The reopening celebration will begin at 10 a.m. Monday at El Cariso Regional Park, 13100 Hubbard St.

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