WOULD DOUBLE NUMBER OF CHILDREN SERVED
The Morris County Board of Freeholders last night introduced a $1.2 million ordinance for the rehabilitation of space at the county’s Central Avenue Complex in Parsippany to create new and expanded quarters for children who attend the Head Start Community Program of Morris County in the Morristown region.
The new facility would double Head Start’s capacity in this area, allowing it to accommodate additional underprivileged children in the program, which currently operates in space provided by the county, for a minimal annual fee, at its Morris View building in Morris Township.
The Freeholder Board should consider final adoption of the ordinance at its Feb. 27 meeting, which could lead to a bidding process for the construction project by late March or early April. The new center likely would open in late 2019 or early 2020.
“Head Start offers a very important services to some of Morris County’s most in need children and families,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Director Doug Cabana. “We have been working closely with Head Start so we can improve their space and offer this important program to even more of our Morris County children.’’
“Head Start is very grateful for our longstanding partnership with Morris County, which enables us to provide life-changing services for the area’s most vulnerable children and families,” said Head Start of Morris County Executive Director Susan O’Donnell. “This project leverages county, state and federal resources that work together to break the cycle of poverty for the neediest families in our community,’’ she added.
O’Donnell explained that with the opening of this new Head Start facility in the county’s Central Avenue Complex, twice as many families in the general Morristown area would be able to access free early childhood programs.
These families also could connect to a wide array of human services available at the same location.
Financing approved by the Board of Freeholders for the construction work is a loan to Head Start, which would reimburse county taxpayers for the project.
The county and Head Start will negotiate an annual lease for the new space. Head Start now pays the county just $8,000 annually for its Morris View location.
Since 2005, Head Start has leased space from the county to provide services for preschoolers from low-income families in the Morristown area. It currently occupies three classrooms in a second-floor wing of the Morris View Healthcare Center, in addition to the program’s main site in Dover.
The new facility would serve 90 preschoolers, including children with special needs. Free, full-day preschool services would be offered through a Federal Head Start grant and a preschool education expansion aid collaboration with the Morris School District.
Wrap-around childcare and summer programming also is planned to support working parents.
The mission of Head Start Community Program of Morris County, founded in 1965, is to partner with families to provide comprehensive support for child development and school readiness, from prenatal through kindergarten ages, for the community’s most vulnerable children.
The organization serves 245 families countywide, providing free programs for expectant mothers, infants, toddlers and preschoolers in Morris County. Head Start services are designed to be responsive to the ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage of each child and family.
The agency’s early childhood programs have achieved 4-star quality ratings through Grow NJ Kids, the state’s quality rating system for early care and education programs.
Information about services is available by calling Head Start at 973-989-1430, or through the organization’s website, www.headstartmc.org.