About

Serving Clay, Lawrence and Randolph Counties in Northeast Arkansas for 51 years, Black River Area Development Corporation is a Community Action Agency and the grantee for  BRAD Child Development Programs which includes Head Start, Early Head Start, Arkansas Better Chance, State pre-k and after school care programs.  The Head Start program serves 137 preschool children, Early Head Start serves 96 infant/toddlers, State pre-k will potentially serve 180 children.

Centers are located in Pocahontas in Randolph County, Corning, Piggott, and Rector in Clay County, and Walnut Ridge in Lawrence County.

James Jansen has been Executive Director of Black River Area Development for 50 years.  Mr. Jansen is involved in the local and national community and professional service.  He is a member of the Pocahontas Kiwanis Club, Arkansas Community Action Agency Association, and is a past member of the Arkansas Interest on Lawyers Trust Account (IOLTA) Foundation.  Mr. Jansen served 15 years as a member of the Board of Education of the Walnut Ridge Public School, 5 years as a members of the Board of Directors of the National Centers for Appropriate Technology (NEAT), and is past president of the Arkansas State University Training and Technical Assistance Board for Early Childhood Education.

Rhonda Ahrent is the program director.  Rhonda began working for the program in 1992 as Education Coordinator for the Transition Demonstration Program in area public schools.  Rhonda was hired as the Education Coordinator in 1992 and later became the Assistant Director.  Mrs. Ahrent has a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Development from the University of Arkansas.  She has served in numerous leadership roles President of the Staff Class of the Arkansas Head Start Association,  Region VI Head Start Association Board Scholarship Committee,   Professional membership includes:  Arkansas Head Start Association, Region VI Head Start Association, National Head Start Association, National Association for the Education of the Young Child.

Other staff employment facts include:

  • All Head start teachers have a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education or a related degree.
  • More than 92 percent of Early Head Start Teacher/Caregivers have obtained an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, while more are studying to receive a higher degree.
  • BRAD Child Development Programs employs approximately 105 individuals throughout the program, including administration, content area managers, center staff, and substitutes.
  • The management team, is made up of highly qualified individuals within their field.  The skilled team performs high quality training and support for center staff. Some manager’s job duties encompass more than one service area.

Black River Area Development Corporation’s (BRAD’s) governing board is well informed and extremely involved with the program. The board is made up of 15 members representing the communities served.

The Head Start/Early Head Start Policy Council is composed of Head Start and Early Head Start parents representing each center and community representatives from each area that is served by the program.