U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins has announced a federal grant of more than $11.54 million for Head Start programs in Western New York. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says this will reach children who are being served in Community Action Organization (CAO) of Western New York classrooms in Erie and Niagara Counties.
“We try to focus really hard on getting to young people as soon as we possibly can,” said Nathan Hare, president and CEO of the CAO program in Buffalo.
Hare tells WBFO news this funding ensures that for the next six months, there will dollars in place to operate in Erie and Niagara Counties.
“We serve roughly 2,188 kids through our Erie County program, another 460 kids through our Niagara County program and maybe 220 kids in our Head Start, Early Head Start daycare partnership,” Hare explained.
The funding is coming from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. Congressman Higgins noted the grant to CAO is an "investment" in children and families in our region.
“We know that providing children with access to educational programs early provides a lifetime of benefits,” said Congressman Higgins “This federal grant to CAO is an investment in Western New York children and families.”
Head Start and Early Head Start provide key benefits for a child's from low-income families. It boosts their learning by focusing on literacy, language and important cognition and development skills.
“We create a classroom space for them. We create a motor room for them to help kids with their motor function and to work on their physical development. We have a small children’s library in each one of these academies. We teach children how to police their own areas. We teach them how to learn,” Hare remarked.
Children in Head Start get a better academic change, .leading them to graduate high school and attend college.
In the 2015-16 school year more than 1.1 million children were served at Head Start programs nationwide.