Delegation Announces $1.8 Million in Head Start Funding for Woonsocket

U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Congressmen David Cicilline and Jim Langevin today announced more than $1.8 million in federal funding to expand access to early childhood education and comprehensive services for children and families in Woonsocket.

“This federal funding will help ensure more kids get a high-quality start to school,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee who helped secure $9.3 billion for Head Start in the FY2017 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. “Congress needs to do more to prioritize working families and improve access to childhood education opportunities. Investing in high-quality early learning and child care programs helps families and the broader economy. It prepares students to succeed in school, helps give working parents better job stability, and contributes to overall economic security.”

“This funding will help Rhode Island kids hit the ground running when they get to kindergarten.  That preparation pays off well beyond the classroom,” said Whitehouse. “I’m proud to fight alongside my colleagues in the delegation to support Head Start’s important work in Rhode Island.”

“Head Start has a proven track-record of making a difference for children and families in Rhode Island,” said Congressman Cicilline, who advocated for funding for Head Start in Congress. “This is a great investment in our state’s future, and I am committed to working in Washington to make sure all of our working families have the support they need to thrive.”

“This $1.8 million grant will benefit the lives of many children by expanding access to critical resources that the Woonsocket Head Start program provides and will create a pathway for future academic success,” said Congressman Langevin. “Head Start is not just about early childhood education, as it also helps low-income families access medical and nutrition services to create safe and healthy learning environments for students. I’m proud to be a longtime advocate for Head Start, which affects the lives of thousands of Rhode Island families.”

Woonsocket Head Start Development Association (WHSDA) is receiving $1,848,524 to run and expand Head Start through the Administration for Children and Families Office of Head Start. The federal funds support comprehensive early childhood development services, including classroom instruction, behavior guidance and nutrition services, for 190 low-income children in Woonsocket. The grant will also allow WHSDA to offer four expanded classes with six hours of instruction over 180 days, in addition to 7 4-hour classes of instruction over 165 days. Currently, 190 children are enrolled in 11 Head Start classes through WHSDA.

Head Start is a federally-funded comprehensive early childhood program for low-income pre-school children and their families. It is designed to address a wide variety of needs during the two years before kindergarten.  Head Start programs deliver early education, medical and dental screenings and referrals, nutrition services, mental health services, family engagement activities, and social service referrals for the whole family.

According to the RI Kids Count Fact Book, during the 2015-2016 school year, 2,695 children aged three to five in Rhode Island were enrolled in a Head Start program. Children who are enrolled in Head Start are better prepared to learn and score higher on school readiness measures such as verbal achievement, perceptual reasoning, and social competence than children who did not attend preschool.

The National Head Start Association reports that since the summer of 1965, more than 33 million children nationwide have benefitted from Head Start’s comprehensive services.