Head Start Adds School Health Coordinators

posted 5/5/22 -- Navigating the world of health care became both more important and more intimidating in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. LCCAA Head Start has added two new positions to support families and staff in understanding how health and nutrition impact their youngsters.

Taylor Cannon and Melissa Jarvis began serving as the program’s first School Health Coordinators at the end of February. They are working to bolster the health-related systems in place for Head Start families including the variety of screenings offered, the need to manage chronic conditions and the ongoing requirements related to the pandemic.

“These ladies have been a real blessing,” said Health and Nutrition Specialist Rebecca Rodriguez. “They are going to help us really expand the health literacy of our families and alleviate some concerns and frustrations that are common among parents of young children.”

Deeper Questions for Deeper Service

Head Start students get physicals and parents are encouraged to keep up to date with wellness checks. They are also offered a variety of screenings at their centers including vision, dental and lead contamination. Cannon and Jarvis will help with updating forms and systems to make these processes easier for parents and staff.

“Coming from a medical background gives both ladies a different perspective,” Rodriguez said. “They will ask deeper questions and provide better information to staff while also helping parents learn how to advocate for their children’s health.”

From Temp to Permanent

Cannon has worked as a pediatric medical assistant for seven years, including some experience with low-income children in Cleveland. She earned her bachelor’s degree in health sciences last May from Cleveland State University and is a Certified Medical Assistant. She worked briefly as a temp in LCCAA’s Energy Services Department last fall, but said she previously knew little about the agency.

“There is a lot that goes in to a Head Start program,” Cannon said. “I hope to be a resource to family service assistants and families to better explain how Head Start can be of assistance.”

Cannon is currently based at LCCAA’s Griswold Head Start site and will also work with staff and families at Cascade Head Start and some of the agencies collaborative sites. She was born and raised in Elyria.

Lorain Proud!

Jarvis spent almost two decades working with adults with disabilities through the Lorain County MRDD board. She was born and raised in Lorain and lives downtown near where she grew up and where many of her neighbors have been LCCAA clients, she said.

“The impact this organization has on the community is mind-blowing,” Jarvis said. “It really means a lot to me to help people in my community.”

After leaving her work with the adults she cared for, Jarvis began working toward her Medical Assistant certification at Ohio Business College (OBC). She was part of a group of OBC students who worked with LCCAA Head Start on some of the screenings offered to families. She is based at Hopkins-Locke Head Start and also works with staff and families at the Wellington and LaGrange sites.

Both coordinators have been part of on-site wellness checks for students at morning drop off and are working to get to know staff and families. They will work on processes over the summer and in the fall plan to add items such as "managing an asthmatic child" to their support of staff.

The program also has received some new equipment for conducting screenings. Cannon and Jarvis will be providing training for staff this fall on needleless hemoglobin testers and new, less-invasive devices for hearing screenings.

“It’s going to be very beneficial for everyone,” Rodriguez said.