“The one million children Head Start serves each year represent less than 40 percent of those eligible for the program–a gross underinvestment.”
–Erin Trenbeath-Murray, CEO of Salt Lake Head Start
Not only is Head Start extended for preschoolers, but a child care program for infants helps young parents who are attending and finishing Horizonte, Salt Lake City’s alternative high school and adult education provider.
Instead of dropping out, as some Salt Lake high schoolers have done when they became pregnant, Horizonte welcomes them, provides a caring environment, teaches them mother and parent skills as well as advances them through their high school curriculum. Shortly after their babies are born child care awaits them at Horizonte.
Horizonte’s infant care and accompanying Head Start program are designed to address these young parents’ unique needs and prepare their children, vulnerable early learners, for kindergarten and future success.
“Head Start’s promise to the most fragile families is to have well prepared teachers that meet children’s comprehensive needs,” states Erin Trenbeath-Murray, Salt Lake Head Start CEO. “Head Start alumni are better prepared than their peers, not just for school but lifelong achievement,” she reports.
Nearly 50 years old and a key component of the War on Poverty, Head Start nationally serves only about 40 percent of those eligible. And despite long efforts only 13 percent of African-Americans access education beyond high school, according to the Center for American Progress.
Over that almost half century economic inequality and insecurity have worsened. An achievement gap–the difference in educational outcomes between children growing up in poverty and those in more advantageous circumstances, has become great and festering. Five decades of top down social welfare initiatives and laissez-faire economics have not bridged this gap.
By age three, children from low-income families hear, on average, 30 million fewer words than their peers growing up in more affluent homes, according to Rice University research. This social and emotional skills deficit becomes the achievement gap when children born into poverty enter kindergarten. They are at a severe disadvantage and struggle to catch up.
Horizonte enables its young parents to succeed in high school, learn successful parenting skills, and earn college scholarships through a two-year degree or vocational certificate. The achievement gap can be bridged.