Local hands where program belongs

Published 2:50 pm Thursday, September 11, 2014

Early Head Start, one of the most important programs for northeastern Louisiana’s most vulnerable young mothers and children, is back in local hands.

The Children’s Coalition of Northeastern Louisiana, our signature advocate for at-risk children, recently secured a five-year, $4.75-million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to operate the three sites in Ouachita Parish.

Early Head Start is a federally funded community-based program for low-income families with pregnant women, infants and toddlers up to age 3.

Its programs are designed to support the physical, social, emotional, cognitive and language development of each child, with a special emphasis on educating and supporting parents.

Volunteers of America in Shreveport, using the needs assessment conducted by The Children’s Coalition, operated the Ouachita locations until two years ago before pulling back to its core market.

Community Development Institute of Denver took over the past two years, and by all accounts, did a fine job.

But we believe the three Ouachita Early Head Start locations and those they serve can be even more effective under The Children’s Coalition’s watch.

The Children’s Coalition has a sterling track record, and its insight into the specific nuanced needs of our community will elevate the work done at the Early Head Start locations in Ouachita.

Children’s Coalition executive director Lynn Clark said Early Head Start has a holistic approach to child care and education that involves parenting, health, social and emotional development — aspects that are not always present in early childhood programs.

“This serves as a model for all ages, and we can use this as a jumping off point to grow our other programs in the Children’s Coalition,” Clark said.

We believe Early Head Start is in good hands with The Children’s Coalition.