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Ocean Inc. Health and Education Advisory Committee Meeting held yesterday in Mancini Hall at the Toms River Branch of the Ocean County Library

Ocean Inc. Head Start Health Department led by Health Manager Laura Coccia, LPN with team members Gloria Bivins, RN BSN; Pat Brower, LPN Nicole Allmond-Hayes LPN Lydia Sledge, Health Clerk and Sharon Hopson, Head Start Education/Site Supervisor hosted the Health and Education Advisory Committee Meeting yesterday in the Mancini Hall at the Toms River Branch of the Ocean County Library.


With many participants in attendance and boxed lunches served, the Health and Education Advisory event brought together staff, parents, local health care and other community providers to discuss the planning, operation and evaluation of health services within the Head Start Program. 


Channell Wilkins, Ocean Inc. President/CEO discussed agency programs including the bolstering of the Weatherization Program which promotes energy efficiency in homes throughout the region and expanded affordable housing with new homes currently being developed by Ocean Inc. in Southern Ocean County.


“Through our Credit Union - Financial Empowerment Program, we are currently providing an 8-week Credit Management/Credit Repair Workshop Series in Lakewood,” said Wilkins. “Our Head Start Program is our largest and the first program to come back live with students in the classroom post pandemic ensuring students didn’t experience a loss of instruction.”


Meg Saunders, the V.P. of Children’s Services for Ocean Inc. provided welcoming announcements, introductions and a brief discussion of the Head Start Program. Ocean Inc. Health Manager Laura Coccia discussed the roles of the Ocean Inc. Health staff and collaborations with many organizations including the Pinelands School of Nursing and the Ocean County Health Department who recently provided Narcan Training for agency staff. “This room is a melting pot of so many organizations with so many programs” said Coccia so please be sure to meet with each other and share information.”


Later in the afternoon, Ms. Coccia demonstrated the agency vision/hearing equipment while discussing the Head Start Mandate – 45 Day Mandatory Screening to get the Head Start children most accurately screened and also introduced this year’s guest speakers including:

· Officer Jason Yahr & Officer Kevin Bell of the Lakewood Police Department who presented Car Seat Safety and distributed car seat instructions. (See attached flyers-Spanish version to follow) The officers assist in the community by making sure car seats are installed correctly for families. Watch out for knock-off car seats with inferior plastic. The car seat must state that it meets federal standards.

· Sima Clapman, Lakewood Fire Prevention Specialist discussed Fire Safety and Prevention stating that each home should have two (2) points of egress (door/window) as most have 3 minutes to get out of your home in the event a fire occurs. (See attached flyers)

Congratulations to the lucky winners who received raffled prizes throughout the afternoon including: 


Valerie Bruno, CHEMED – Winner of the Child Car Seat

Jovita Francis, Pinelands School of Nursing – Winner of the Smoke Detector

Judith Sosa, Ocean Health Initiatives – Winner of the C/O Detector

Kendra Coble, Dentistry for Children - Winner of the Smoke Detector

Alice Schovanec, Stafford Lions - Winner of the C/O Detector


At adjournment, participants were encouraged to network and develop long/short-term goals to implement services that meet the needs of Head Start and strengthen the communities where Head Start families live. 


Thank you to our many community partners who attended the event including:


Sue Ellen Boyer – Monmouth Medical South Audiology

Dina Ginsberger – Lakewood Resource Referral Center

Joe Cuffari - RWJ Barnabas Health

Daniel Regenye – Ocean County Health Department

Peter Curatolo, Ocean County Health Department

Colleen Lynch – Ocean County Prosecutors Office

Victoria Mancuso – Hope Sheds Life

Judith Sosa - Ocean Health Initiatives (OHI)

Yael Moskavitz – Yeled V’Yalda Early Childhood

Chana Rosengarten - Yeled

Kaitlyn Kiegert & Valerie Bruno - CHEMED

Jovita Francis – Pinelands School of Practical Nursing

Sue Ralph, Student Success Center – Fulfill

Kelley Womble & Erin Leo – Fulfill of Monmouth & Ocean

Alice Schovanec – Stafford Lions

Danielle Davis – Dentistry 4 Children

Kendra Goble – Dentistry for Children

Michelle Keenan – Ocean County Vocational Technical School (OCVTS)

Courtney Hartshorn – Ocean County Department of Human Services


Additional Ocean Inc. staff in attendance included: 


Dr. Kimberly Honnick

Theresa Gerhard

Jinny Zaragoza

Thania Heraclio (Brick Head Start Parent & Head Start Policy Council Member)


Kathy Werner

Belkis Mejia

Connie Fahim

Alicia Ramos

Doreen Fontana


For more agency events, visit the Ocean Inc. 'Calendar of Events' with updates continuously posted on the following site:


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