Funding to assist school district in growing & expanding early learning programs
Congressman Brian Higgins announced a federal grant totaling $2,256,804 awarded to the Niagara Falls City School District. His team said, “Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and awarded through the Administration for Children and Families, the grant will provide critical funding to continue growing the Head Start and Early Head Start program serving families in Niagara Falls.”
Higgins said, “Each day, families across the country face the challenge of providing their children with an affordable early education, especially in underserved communities. Under the leadership of Superintendent Mark Laurrie, Niagara Falls City School District has pioneered a Head Start program that is creating critical academic and social foundations for children in our community. Federal funding awarded to the district serves as a continued investment that will help students reach their educational goals, support healthier families, and build a better economic future in Western New York.”
Mark Laurrie said, "The Niagara Falls City School District is grateful for this multimillion-dollar grant that will allow us to continue to grow the Head Start and Early Head Start programs and reach more children and families. The district wants to make sure all of the children in our community have a chance to receive our cradle-to-career services – and those services begin with infants and toddlers in Early Head Start and Head Start."
A press release stated, “Early Head Start programs serve infants and toddlers, and Head Start programs serve 3- and 4-year-olds. Supporting kids from cradle to career based on national Head Start models, Niagara Falls City School District focuses on early development, learning, and family well-being to promote school readiness. The program engages parents by helping to connect those in need to community and federal assistance, parenting support, as well as secure housing, employment and education.
“Niagara Falls City School District took on leadership of the Head Start and Early Head Start program in January 2022. Last year, the program boosted enrollment from 51 to 91 students, with the goal of serving more than 140 children in Head Start and 40 in Early Head Start. The district has provided universal pre-K for over 15 years, and Head Start builds on the 520 pre-K three and pre-K 4 four students they already serve. All programs, including universal pre-K, provide children with breakfast, lunch and a snack each day.”
More than $2.25 million awarded for Head Start in 2023 builds on the combined $4.3 million in federal Head Start funding announced by Higgins and Laurrie in 2021 and 2022. It will allow the district to continue growing the program and reaching a greater number of families in the Niagara Falls community.
The press release added, “At least 90% of the children enrolled in each Head Start program must be from families who meet federally regulated income guidelines. In addition, up to 10% of the enrollment opportunities in each program are made available to children with disabilities. There are no family fees for Head Start or Early Head Start services.
“Since its inception in 1965, Head Start programs have served more than 36 million children. Compared to their peers, children who participated in Head Start are more likely to excel academically in high school and attend college after they graduate. In addition, a study conducted in California showed that every dollar invested in Head Start creates a $9 return through increased earnings, employment, and family stability, and decreased government assistance, crime, and special education costs.”