Ohio State has been named the recipient of a $16.5 million Early Head Start Child Care Partnership grant, which is set to aid in the expansion of education and health resources to children living in some Columbus neighborhoods, a Tuesday press release from OSU said.
The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, is part of the Early Head Start program, a federal program that provides child development and family support services to low-income families.
The original Head Start program was created in 1965 as an eight week project aimed at providing children from low-income families with educational, nutritional and psychological resources. Now, Head Start services are available year-round and focus on children from low-income families between the ages of 0 and 5. The Early Head Start program specifically caters to pregnant women and children between the ages of 0 and 3.
OSU is set to receive $2.7 million each year for the next five years from the federal grant, but matching dollars from grant partners will elevate the funding amount to $3.3 million each year, the release said.
The grant money will be utilized to implement research-based practices aimed at improving the education and well-being of approximately 2,500 infants and 2,300 toddlers in Columbus neighborhoods where the child poverty rate is above the norm, the release said. 160 families are set to be incorporated into the Early Head Start program each year.
Neighborhoods set to participate in the program include Franklinton, the Hilltop, South Linden, the Near East, Near South and Far South neighborhoods, and the Near North/University District.
According to the release, OSU’s Schoenbaum Family Center, a university-sponsored childhood laboratory school located in Weinland Park, is set to lead the partnership. The Early Head Start program also includes a partnership network consisting of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Moms2B support program for pregnant women, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Community Properties of Ohio, a property management company for low-income housing. OSU’s College of Education and Human Ecology will aid the program in identifying resources and collaborating with supporting organizations.
“The Early Head Start Partnership is a great example of the incredible work that can be done when we work together,” said OSU President Michael Drake in the release. “We are bringing together a team of leading minds from higher education, government, community programming and child care agencies to ensure the most vulnerable children in our community have every opportunity to succeed in life.”
In recent years, the effectiveness of the Head Start program has been questioned, after a program evaluation report was released in 2010 by the Department of Health and Human Services. The report concluded that children past the age of four who participated in Head Start do not perform any better in school than their peers who did not participate in the program.
“In sum, this report finds that providing access to Head Start has benefits for both 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds in the cognitive, health and parenting domains, and for 3-year-olds in the social-economical domain,” the report’s conclusion said. “However, the benefits of access to Head Start at age four are largely absent by first grade for the program population as a whole.”
Additional services set to be offered through the OSU Early Head Start Partnership include mental health counseling, medical exams and screening, nutrition education, adult education and job training, and affordable and safe housing, the release said.