More than 180 children under 5 years of age will be enrolled in the Niagara Falls City School District’s new Head Start and Early Head Start programs as a result of a $10.5 million contract from the federal government to run these programs for the next five years. Niagara University will be a key partner in this initiative by providing training and technical assistance to program participants, and opportunities for fieldwork and internships will be enhanced for students in the university’s College of Education.

The new Head Start/Early Head Start program will offer early education, health screenings, social and emotional health, nutrition, social services, and services for children with disabilities. It also will provide support and resources for the children’s caregivers, including workforce training and parenting classes, many of which will be offered through Niagara University’s Levesque Institute. Niagara’s College of Education will also provide embedded coaching by holding classes for early childhood courses and field placement experiences at the three Head Start/Early Head Start locations. In addition, there will be opportunities for graduate students enrolled in the College of Education’s clinical mental health counseling program to obtain paid internships.

Head Start and Early Head Start programs are based on a national model that provides a comprehensive education for children ages zero to five. Focusing on early development, health, and family well-being, the program engages children and families in the early learning process to promote school readiness.

“Every child should enter kindergarten ready to learn and succeed in school, and this program will help them to do so,” said Dr. Chandra Foote, dean of Niagara’s College of Education. “We are happy to partner with the Niagara Falls School District on this critical initiative that will serve both our young children and the people who care for them. This work complements other College of Education initiatives, including Help Me Grow and the Niagara County Early Child Care Quality Improvement Project.”

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