Bringing the Promise of Early Head Start to More Children


More of Schenectady's children and families are benefiting from the Early Head Start (EHS) program at Parsons Child & Family Center, thanks to a grant from The Schenectady Foundation.

"Early Head Start has the proven capacity to give young children their best chance to prepare for school success," said Robert Carreau, TSF Executive Director.

Parsons' EHS serves low-income families who live in the city of Schenectady, and who are pregnant or who have a child below the age of three. By enrolling families early in their children's lives, EHS is best able to improve child development and health outcomes through education, health and family advocacy services.

Last year, due to budgetary constraints, Parsons Child & Family Center was forced to reduce its EHS program, closing four classroom and leaving a serious gap in services for Schenectady children and their families.

With a $180,000 grant from TSF, Parsons was able to apply for, and receive, a $1.2 million federal grant. As a result, Parsons was able to open four new classrooms (one for toddlers and three for infants), serve an additional 50 children and their families and employ 14 new staff members.

And that was good news for Schenectady families.

Parsons' outstanding EHS program offers a center-based option at its Bigelow Avenue location as well as a home-based program, in conjunction with Catholic Charities' Healthy Schenectady Families - another Strengthening Families partner. Both center and home options provide early, continuous child development and health education and support the family through connections to community services. Parents receive, for example, help securing medical services for their children, along with educational and employment opportunities for themselves.

Additionally, a licensed practical nurse, family support worker, developmental specialist, nutritional consultant, and clinical social worker are available to each family enrolled in EHS.

"Parsons' EHS exemplifies the goal of TSF's Strengthening Families initiative to improve the lives of children by supporting the success of their families," said Mr. Carreau.

Parsons Early Head Start is part of the Bigelow Corners Partnership, an ongoing effort to better serve children - from birth to young adulthood -- and families using services on and around Bigelow Avenue in Schenectady. In addition to Parsons, Bigelow Corners partners are the Capital District Child Care Council, Schenectady City School District's Keane and Lincoln Elementary Schools and the Schenectady Community Action Program (SCAP) Head Start. A Strengthening Families grant from The Schenectady Foundation supported the planning phase of the Partnership.