NEWTON, MA | October 7, 2009
Preschool teachers in four New England states have a significant new resource, with the opening of service centers staffed by early childhood education experts and managed by Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC). EDC, which has led early childhood education innovations and staff professional development initiatives for more than 20 years, has been awarded $10.8 million by the National Office of Head Start to establish the centers and offer training, support, and assistance for Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
The Training and Technical Assistance Centers, complete with conference areas and video conferencing capacity, have been established in each state to serve Head Start teachers, managers, and administrators. In addition to managing and staffing the new centers, EDC will conduct a comprehensive needs assessment with preschool education programs and state leaders, analyze state data on early childhood education, and respond to national and state priorities. EDC will also coordinate with state and higher education leaders to advance early education.
The award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Head Start includes funding for five years: $2,833,970 in Connecticut; $3,619,087 in Massachusetts; $2,236,687 in Maine; and $2,214,527 in Rhode Island.
EDC will work closely with early childhood education leaders to develop and deliver training programs for teachers that draw on current research and best practices in early childhood education, work to align program practices and curriculum, support implementation of state early education standards, and enhance coordination and improvement of child and family services in local programs and the states.
“For more than two decades, EDC has worked to strengthen the programs that serve young children and their families,” said senior vice president Joanne Brady, who directs EDC’s Learning and Teaching Division. “This award comes at a critical time, as states are developing their early childhood education priorities, and will allow us to support and assist local Head Start programs and early childhood staff,” Brady said.
Head Start provides grants to local nonprofit and for-profit agencies to provide comprehensive educational, health, nutritional, social, and other services to economically disadvantaged children and families, with a focus on helping preschoolers develop the early reading and math skills they need to be successful in school. The Early Head Start program, established in 1995, serves children from birth through age three, recognizing the importance of the earliest years in children’s growth and development. Both programs place significant emphasis on engaging parents in supporting their children’s development and learning.
In 2008, nearly 1 million children were enrolled in Head Start and Early Head Start programs in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. In the coming year, Early Head Start will expand to serve an additional 55,000 infants and toddlers nationally.