Officials at Carbon County's Head Start are happy the state budget has finally been signed.

During the county Child and Family Collaborative Board meeting on Wednesday, Bernetta Frantz of Rural Opportunities, Inc., Carbon County Head Start, announced that because of the new budget, Head Start will be able to provide the same services to children as before. They are now waiting for funding from the state to arrive.

Frantz noted that during the budget impasse, the organization was forced to lay off three employees. Those employees will now be brought back to work.

She also announced that the organization is looking into a grant to serve children from birth to 3 years of age.

Right now the application is in negotiations.

If Head Start is approved, plans call for creating five home-based classes, and one center-based classroom.

The Carbon County Head Start program has classrooms in Lehighton and Coaldale.

It serves more than 150 children in Panther Valley, Jim Thorpe, Lehighton, and Palmerton school districts, whose families make no more than $22,050 annually. The program provides children with an exciting educational experience, health and developmental screenings, breakfast and lunch, and an opportunity to make new friends. Parents are welcomed and encouraged to be a part of all aspects of the program.

In related matters, other area initiatives that serve families in Carbon County are reporting growth in the programs.

The Family Promise program, which is aimed at helping families who are homeless are currently in the process of finding nine more church organizations that would be willing to serve as a place for families to stay for a week at a time. The next step will then be fundraising.

To become a volunteer organization or for more information contact Larissa Kimmel at (610) 577-5060.

The Business/Education Partnership is beginning to move forward with creating a link between academics and careers. The current project in the works focuses on eighth and ninth grade girls who are interested in machine shop and electronics.