Each week, we’d like to take time to do a #FeatureFriday on an organization that is doing big things for child poverty in our community. We at the United Way of NWA are fortunate to have many, many organizations that we’re proud to come alongside and make a difference on a daily basis, impacting children in our own backyard.
EOA Children’s Services Head Start program was excited to receive United Way First Step Funding this year. This funding will enhance and strengthen our current initiatives of providing school readiness skills to low-income children in Washington County. Services that are provided to ensure school readiness are 1) reduce the achievement gap, 2) address health, mental health, and disability issues during the critical developmental years of early childhood, and 3) work with parents to lessen the effects of chronic poverty on the very young child such as homelessness, food insecurity, and workforce entry while the family works to move up and out of poverty. This two-generation approach builds sustainability for not only the child but the entire family. EOA is committed to closing the achievement gap for children by developing school readiness goals, which, in addition to guiding curriculum and teaching, are used to track and analyze child outcomes. Children receive medical, dental, and developmental screenings along with necessary treatment for identified concerns. The families receive parenting education, health education, and support services connecting them to education and jobs. EOA provides the early learning environment necessary to ensure that children living in poverty enter Kindergarten on the same level as their middle-income peers as a result of receiving educational, developmental, emotional, and disability services.
- Head Start children have a higher likelihood of graduating high school, attending college, and receiving a post-secondary degree, license, or certification (Bauer et al. 2016).
- Head Start children have higher math test scores in 8th grade, are less likely to be chronically absent, and less likely to be held back a year by 8th grade (Phillips et al. 2016).
- Children in Early Head Start show significantly better social-emotional, language, and cognitive development than control group children, and are more likely to be immunized and have services for children with disabilities (Love et al., 2002).
- The nationally-representative Head Start Impact Study found Head Start children scored better than a control group of children in all measured domains of cognitive and social-emotional development at the end of their Head Start experience (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010).