Head-start_BFmbFamily Services announced today it is the recipient of $2.2 million dollars in federal funding that will bring the Early Head Start program to Forsyth County in September 2015. Early Head Start (EHS) will operate year-round and serve low-income families with children from birth to 36 months of age providing critical education and development services.

Family Services, which administers the Head Start program in Forsyth County within its Child Development Division, will pilot a new model for Early Head Start that requires collaboration among community childcare providers to deliver the program. This model is intended to strengthen the community’s system of early childhood development programs.

“We will be partnering with community child care centers that will each provide one to three classrooms for infants and toddlers,” said Bob Feikema, president and CEO of Family Services. “This funding will enable us to provide high quality early learning and child development services during the years when children need it most.

Children enrolled in Early Head Start can ‘graduate’ into Head Start and have the benefit of up to five straight years of immersion in a research-based curriculum. The years from birth to five are critical in terms of brain development and preparedness for school and beyond.”

Early Head Start will serve 120 infants and toddlers and their families. It is a federally-funded, full-day, family-centered early learning and child development program offering continuous, intensive and comprehensive services to both children and their families. Those services include health screenings, social and emotional health, nutrition, social services, and services for children with disabilities.

“The importance of high quality early education programs cannot be emphasized enough,” said Feikema. “The curriculums have been infused with research findings. As licensing and certification standards have been set, early childhood development programs have come to be recognized as the best educational investment to be made. The science is conclusive – quality early childhood education boosts the development of the young brain in ways that continue to pay dividends well into the future.”

Retired Chief District Court Judge William Reingold, who currently is Family Services’ fundraising campaign chairman, agrees. “This is a wonderful gift for families in Forsyth County. Numerous studies show that children who attended quality pre-K programs have better school attainment, higher graduation rates, more years of attained education, higher lifetime earnings and less delinquency and criminal behavior. All of these are vital for improving our overall community.”

The EHS grant will also provide new jobs for the community. “The Early Head Start grant will pay the salaries of at least 42 full-time staff members,” said Feikema. “The majority will be teaching positions in the community child care centers and at Family Service, as well as professional staff who work directly with families and administrative positions.