The Children’s Center has been notified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families that it will be the new provider for the Head Start program in Western Tidewater.
With the $2.34 million dollar grant, the Children’s Center will provide Head Start to 300 children in Suffolk, Franklin, Isle of Wight County, and Southampton County. The Children’s Center will take over the program from Community Development Institute (CDI), which ran the program on a temporary basis for the last year. Currently, there are Head Start Centers in Franklin, Courtland, Smithfield, and Suffolk.
“We are excited and honored to expand our work with families in the Western Tidewater community,” said Rosalind Cutchins, Program Director for the Children’s Center. “We are grateful to the many partners in this community who care deeply for children, who believe in their tremendous potential, and who are willing to work side by side to provide an enriched environment for all children. We are very excited to bring our experience with the Early Head Start program to children in Head Start. There is the potential for children to be with us in a natural progression from birth to age five. This gives us the opportunity to build trust with families, partner with them in early childhood education, and empower them to be their child’s best advocate.”
Head Start promotes school readiness by serving families of economically-disadvantaged children ages three to five with educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families. Head Start, a program that began in 1965, engages parents in their children's learning and assists parents in making progress toward their educational, literacy and employment goals.
Studies of the Head Start programs found that Head Start increases educational achievement: raising test scores, decreasing the need for children to receive special education services and making it less likely that children will repeat a grade. Head Start graduates are also more likely to graduate from high school and attend college.
Head Start's impact on children’s health is impressive. Likely because of its required medical screenings, vaccinations, and emphasis on nutrition, Head Start reduces the mortality rates for 5- to 9-year-olds by as much as 50 percent. A child in Head Start is 19 to 25 percent less likely to smoke as an adult. And parents in Head Start receiving health literacy decreased annual Medicaid costs by $232 per family.
Graduates of Head Start are 12 percent less likely to be booked or charged with a crime. This reduction translates into savings for crime victims, local, state, and federal governments, and the American taxpayer.
The National Impact Study of Head Start found that children attending Head Start made significant cognitive and social-emotional gains compared with a control group. The children who attended Head Start were also in better health compared to the children in the control group.
“Research demonstrates the effectiveness of high quality, Head Start services,” said Tamie Rittenhouse, Early Head Start Director for the Children’s Center. “Our annual Community Assessment highlights the need for Head Start services in our community.”
The Children’s Center is a private, nonprofit organization (501(c)(3) tax exempt) that has served families living in Western Tidewater (Suffolk, Isle of Wight County, Franklin, and Southampton County) since 1983. The Center serves children of all levels of ability, including those with disabilities, and those who are economically disadvantaged. The Children’s Center’s mission is to nurture and educate children and their families.
The Children’s Center provides Early Head Start services to children ages birth to three and pregnant women, early intervention to infants and toddlers with delays in development, licensed pediatric therapy and mental health services, and licensed early care and education for children six weeks to five years of age. These programs are provided in the child’s home and in integrated settings at five sites throughout Western Tidewater.