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Metropolitan Family Services Awarded Two Competitive Head Start Grants

Metropolitan Family Services, a leading provider of human services to low-income families, has been awarded two competitive grants to provide Head Start services in DuPage. The Office of Head Start, within the Administration of Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, granted Metropolitan DuPage $4,673,754 for Head Start 3-5 year-old preschool programming and $1,194,021 for Early Head Start programs serving children ages 0-3 years throughout DuPage.

Head Start and Early Head Start will provide preschool programming to more than 600 children who have economic, developmental or other disadvantages that could threaten their future school success. The programs will serve children who live throughout DuPage County with centers being located in the communities of Addison, Bensenville, Carol Stream, Naperville, Villa Park, Warrenville, West Chicago, Burr Ridge, Wood Dale and a community still to be determined in South Central DuPage.

Metropolitan will partner with several area agencies and school districts to provide the Head Start programs, including Educare of West DuPage, Naperville Community School District 203, Bensenville School District 2, Burr Ridge Community Consolidated School District 180, Addison School District 4, Wheaton Warrenville School District 200, Villa Park School District 45, Wood Dale School District 7, Outreach Community Ministries Carol Stream Center and St. Andrew United Methodist Church Carol Stream Center. Numerous human service and civic leaders have endorsed the transition, including U.S.Representatives Randall Hultgren, Judy Biggert and Peter Roskam.

Head Start services for these communities previously were provided by Lifelink Corporation and the Community Development Institute. Metropolitan will work closely with the current provider and the families to ensure continuity for children, parents and educators.

“Metropolitan is excited to be awarded these grants to provide early childhood education for low-income children throughout DuPage County,” said Ric Estrada, President and CEO of Metropolitan Family Services. “Because our mission centers around strengthening families, the development and education needs of children are a clear focus of our services. Our experience providing quality Head Start programming dates back to 1995, with the opening of our first Head Start facility.”

“Today, we operate three Head Start Centers in Chicago that are fully accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children that have excellent performance – 9 in 10 of our 3-4 year olds meet developmental norms across the board,” Estrada remarked. “The addition of these Head Start services in DuPage aligns perfectly with our core programming for early childhood learning.”

“It’s good to know that our DuPage Head Start program will be in such caring hands,” said U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL-13), a former school board president and senior member of the House Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education. “Years ago, I volunteered with Chicago’s first Head Start program at Hull House, and it was so clear what a huge difference early learning can make in a child’s life. With leadership from Metropolitan Family Services, our Head Start and Early Head Start programs will provide kids in DuPage, especially in under-served households, with an early and effective push towards a brighter future.”

Head Start promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children with educational, health, nutritional, social and other services. The Metropolitan Family Services DuPage Head Start programs will provide a combination of center-, school-, and home-based early childhood education services.

“We know the difference quality early learning makes in children’s lives and use proven, evidence-based curricula to ensure they can succeed,” said Theresa Nihill, Executive Director of Metropolitan Family Services DuPage. “And by collaborating with Educare, school districts and many other community partners, we will provide an experience that prepares children for success physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially.”

Key findings of a community assessment conducted by Metropolitan, using multiple data sources, show a substantial increase in need for Early Head Start and Head Start services across DuPage County. Even as the overall 0-5 population decreased slightly, the number of young children living in poverty has more than doubled during the past decade, from 2,379 to 5,288.

As a result of the needs assessment it conducted, over the summer Metropolitan will adjust the program delivery to focus on the communities mentioned above. Four existing sites will be closed, with children from these areas to be served by centers closer to their neighborhood or in their homes.

Because DuPage is a large, geographically dispersed county, understanding where the pockets of poverty lie is extremely important. Metropolitan Family Services DuPage has been actively serving the DuPage area’s most vulnerable residents for more than 80 years. It is this foundation and history that uniquely positions the organization to best serve families of DuPage.

Note: Total Head Start funding totals $5.4 million; of that $1.1 million (20 percent) comes from nongovernmental sources. Total Early Head Start funding totals $1.3 million; of that more than $266,000 (20 percent) comes from nongovernmental sources.

About Metropolitan Family Services
Metropolitan Family Services gives hope and help to families. We are human service leaders, dedicated to strengthening low-income, Chicago-area families. Families are the heart of strong communities, and we invest in services to help them reach their full potential. Metropolitan serves 43,000 families and individuals annually through seven community centers in the city and suburbs.

Metropolitan Family Services DuPage helps families restore balance in their lives and achieve economic stability; provides youth mentoring; counsels parents, children and seniors; and provides respite to family caregivers. Last year Metropolitan DuPage served more than 7,000 DuPage residents.