FLINT, Mich. (March 20, 2017) – Genesee County and the Genesee Intermediate School District (ISD) will start providing additional Early Head Start services to the children and families of the Flint area thanks to $5.5 million in combined federal dollars secured by Sens. Debbie Stabenow, Gary Peters and Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint.
"The Genesee Intermediate School District is very excited to begin offering center-based services for infants and toddlers, as well as pregnant mothers and families,” said Lauren Chom, Director of Early Childhood for the Genesee Intermediate School District.
“There is a critical need in the Flint area for high-quality programs for our youngest children and we appreciate the support we have received to do this important work."
Director Kelli Webb, Genesee County Community Action Resource Department (GCCARD), said expanded funding will allow for an increase in enrollment for Flint children and families with center-based classrooms to meet their needs.
“GCCARD has a long history of providing quality care and education to pregnant mothers and children to age three with Early Head Start funding. Now, we can expand our efforts within the Flint community and reach more families in need,” Webb said.
Congressman Kildee said Early Head Start is one of the most important investments for combating lead exposure due to the Flint water crisis.
“It’s critical that we invest in wrap-around services for Flint families as they recover from this crisis, including educational, nutritional and developmental support,” Kildee said. “Flint is a strong community and I know that our families and children can overcome lead exposure if they get the resources they need to succeed.”
Genesee ISD was awarded a $3.2 million grant through the Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership and Early Head Start Expansion program. Genesee County’s $2.3 million award is funded by an Early Head Start Expansion grant. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services administers the funding.
Early Head Start Child Care Partnership programs offer developmental screenings and referrals to medical, dental, nutrition, vision and mental health services, including providing necessities such as diapers and formula. Partnership sites receive additional resources to support training and professional development for staff, and improve facilities and upgrade supplies and equipment.
“Today’s announcement is another important step in ensuring that children affected by the water crisis in Flint have the long-term support they need,” Sen. Stabenow added. “Good nutrition, medical care and early childhood education can make all the difference in helping Flint’s children succeed.”
Added Sen. Peters: “This funding will expand access to critical medical, nutritional and education support services for Flint infants and toddlers to ensure they receive the care and resources they need to live happy and healthy lives.”
Last year, Peters, Stabenow and Kildee introduced legislation to expand both Head Start and Early Head Start enrollment for Flint kids exposed to lead. In March 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded a one-time, $3.6 million grant to expand Head Start and Early Head Start services for preschoolers affected by Flint’s lead contaminated water supply.