Published on August 18, 2017
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans’ Head Start and Early Head Start programs promote the social, emotional, physical and intellectual growth and development of children ages birth – 3 years (Early Head Start) and 3 – 5 years (Head Start). In addition to early childhood education, Head Start offers health (medical and dental), social, mental health and nutrition services. The program services as many children’s first introduction to structured education and sets the foundation for years to come.
To better serve the needs of our community, CCANO opened two new Head Start and Early Head Start centers in 2016, including St. Paul the Apostle Head Start and Early Head Start Center, which serves nearly 200 New Orleans East children and families.
In the past, communities in New Orleans East have been underserved in community resources, including education – a problem compounded by Hurricane Katrina. Pamela Randall, Center Director at St. Paul the Apostle Head Start and Early Head Start, shares, “The families in this community yearn for more accommodations that will improve their family dynamics without having to leave the community to receive the service.”
St. Paul the Apostle Head Start and Early Head Start is CCANO’s fifth Head Start site and will allow us to offer educational, social and other services to well over 400 children and their families.
The upcoming year will mark the first full school year at St. Paul the Apostle, and the staff, students and families are buzzing with anticipation. Students are eager to return and continue learning, and teachers are ready to help them do so.
Students and staff are also excited to welcome new faces to the Head Start community. “The classrooms and campus will be full of laughter, students learning and experiencing new things and a community of learners in the making,” Randall says.
Randall and her staff invite and encourage parents and families to participate at the center as much as possible to build and strengthen relationships with their children, staff and each other. Engaging in meaningful dialogue with the children’s teachers allows parents to become more engaged and involved in their children’s development. Staff also stands ready to help parents and families through any difficult situations that may arise. This team effort promotes a love of learning, an engaged community and successful children.
Even though the first school year was an abbreviated one, Randall says the students and their families still made huge strides in a short amount of time and will only continue to grow this school year. Knowing their children were learning and receiving care in a safe, nurturing environment, many St. Paul the Apostle Head Start and Early Head Start parents were able to attend school and further their own education. Others were able to obtain employment, and one parent even started her own business!
“Children were identified and provided services they may not have otherwise gotten until they entered elementary school,” Randall shared. In their first full year, the staff at St. Paul the Apostle hopes to take more children from where they are to where they need to be by giving them the educational, social and emotional foundation that will carry them through school and through life.