Media Contact:
Dr. Maria Riestra-Quintero
[email protected]
Michelle Toral
[email protected]

Head Start/Early Head Start programs help ensure children's healthy development

Waterford JumpStart Summer Program and Ready Rosie bridge the digital divide with high-quality activities

MIAMI ( May 04, 2020 )

To mitigate the potentially far-reaching long-term negative impact of COVID-19 on Miami-Dade County’s most vulnerable population, families with children under five years of age living in poverty, the Miami-Dade County Head Start/Early Head Start program continues to provide comprehensive health, nutrition, and high-quality early childhood educational activities for children.

Each day, during the COVID-19 crisis, an average of 7,795 children are receiving high quality developmentally appropriate activities virtually by a Head Start teacher, reducing the negative impact that center closures may have caused on children’s healthy development and school readiness.

The coronavirus outbreak has changed the way that the Head Start program delivers essential services. But even during this uncertain time, it’s a sure thing that the most vulnerable, at-risk Head Start and Early Head Start children in our County are still learning, growing, and developing. To date, the program has delivered educational supplies, books and materials to over 3,000 families to support distance learning. 

COVID-19 has exposed vast disparities regarding not only the availability of learning materials in low-income communities, but also access to technology for children under five years of age. To bridge this digital divide, the Head Start program will be partnering with Waterford to provide the Waterford JumpStart Summer Program to 1,500 Head Start children transitioning to kindergarten. With the help of The Children’s Movement, each family participating in the program will receive personalized family education, a new laptop, internet, and access the Waterford adaptive educational software, which provides the child with activities that promote school readiness. Families will be able to keep the laptop after the program, improving the children’s educational trajectories through the access to technology as they transition to the K-12 educational system.

During COVID-19, at-risk children are more vulnerable to be abused. To help parents deal with the stressors of parenting during COVID-19, all (over 7,000) Head Start/Early Head Start parents will be able to participate in Ready Rosie.  Ready Rosie is a research-based parenting curriculum and educational resource that shares powerful games and expert videos that support positive parenting and caregiving.

The Miami-Dade County Head Start/Early Head Start program continues to play a transformative role across two generations by also helping families, who are now more than ever, struggling with poverty and other socio-economic challenges achieve their goals for education, employment, and housing. Since March 16, 2020, Head Start has provided 7,006 families more than 37,965 services and 126 mental health consultations.  Services include emergency food, diapers, wipes, social services, and employment support.  Over 101,208 Grab and Go meals have been provided to children and families during the center closures.

Understanding the important role Head Start/Early Head Start plays in reopening our County’s  economy, our Head Start/Early Head Start facilities and custodial staff are working diligently to ensure that all facilities are cleaned and sanitized to begin to receive children as soon as the summer months in order to continue providing quality early care and education to children as their parents seek and maintain employment.

In recognition of the unique circumstances associated with the coronavirus disease, the Miami-Dade County Head Start/Early Head Start program continues to fund 10 child-care partners and 17 non-profit organizations during center closures, ensuring that more than 1,900 employees, in under-served communities, continue to receive wages/benefits, and in support of our County’s economy.

The Miami-Dade County Head Start/Early Head Start program was dedicated to assisting families under poverty with small children before the COVID-19 crisis, and will continue to do so during these uncertain times, keeping the County’s commitment to give every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, an opportunity to succeed in school and in life.

To learn more, click here. For questions about Head Start/Early Head Start, email [email protected].