Of the 12 million infants and toddlers across the United States, nearly 1 in 5 lives in poverty. That means that far too many families face persistent hardships – such as food insecurity, unstable housing, unsafe neighborhoods, and exposure to violence – that create unrelenting stress that impacts a family’s ability to provide the nurturing experiences babies need to thrive. Early Head Start is the only federal program specifically focused on the early development and learning experiences of babies and toddlers living in families with incomes below the poverty line. The program uses a two-generation approach, offering comprehensive services to children and families with the goal of supporting the child. Here’s what some had to say about the program.
“ Child Care and preschool programs such as Early Head Start has impacted my family in a positive war. We were lucky to be able to sign up my daughter at one years old. Thanks to programs like Early Head Start I was able to go back to the workforce and if it wasn’t for this program, I would have to be a stay [at] home mom. I love the program because [it] is not just a place for my daughter to be but it is also educational for her. She has become really social, she knows how to share with other kids, she is learning how to use the potty, how to eat/drink by herself and how to clean up after herself. I wish there were more centers and programs like this for people to take advantage of, and be able to go back to the workforce.”
“Our family has been impacted in a positive way. Our child has been able to develop her skills and she is learning a lot by attending child care with the help of her teachers. Two years ago, I was laid off and my wife was a stay at home mother. By being able to receive help from Kidango and have our child enrolled, my wife was able to look for a job and I went back to school to learn new skills that allowed me to find a new job and start a new career. Without the help of Kidango, none of that would have been possible.”
“ Earlier this year, my daughter was diagnosed with behavioral, developmental, and speech delay which causes her to be on the spectrum for autism. Kidango’s [Earl Head Start, Early Intervention] program has helped us drastically because my daughter has had the opportunity to play with other children and learn more words as well as other things such as using spoon, putting away her belongings, and following instructions. The program is helping her catch up to kids her age. I appreciate and fortunate to have a program that helps children like my daughter. If there are no programs like this, my child will probably still very delayed.”
Currently, Early Head Start only reaches 8% of eligible infants and toddlers. Here at Kidango, we have 11 Early Head Start programs that serve low income families throughout the Bay Area. Policymakers should increase federal and state investments in Early Head Start, and programs modeled on Early Head Start, to ensure that more eligible infants and toddlers are served. Now is the time for Congress to increase access to Early Head Start, a program that helps where poverty hurts. Doing so will ensure that all babies and toddlers have the early experiences they need to thrive. You can read more stories on the Impact of Early Head Start here. #ThinkBabies #EarlyHeadStart #HeadStartAwareness