Covenant House: Head Start’s Newest Site

Published in our 2017 Annual Report.

On August 15, 2016, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans opened a new Early Head Start program at Covenant House. While the program is open to all families who qualify, the Covenant House partnership specifically fills a critical need for care and services for the children of homeless parents who have turned to Covenant House for help and support.

The Catholic Charities Early Head Start program at Covenant House provides quality care, comprehensive early childhood education, and health, nutrition and social services for 20 children ranging in age from six weeks to three years.

“Head Start programs provide the foundation for a healthy child and family,” said Sr. Marjorie Hebert, President and CEO of Catholic Charities. “The first few years of a child’s development are crucial to their well-being and future success. This is especially true for children who have experienced trauma, like homelessness, in their young lives. Through the Covenant House partnership, we can provide a head start in life for the children in our care and be attentive to the needs of the parents and families who are a part of their lives.”

Catholic Charities’ Early Head Start program helps parents care for their infants and toddlers through early, continuous, intensive and comprehensive child development and family support services. Individualized care and learning experiences help children grow socially, emotionally, physically and cognitively.

Children receive health and developmental screenings, nutritious meals, oral health and mental health support. Moreover, Early Head Start supports parents by connecting families with comprehensive services such as medical, dental and mental health services to ensure that children are receiving the services that they need.

Together, Catholic Charities and Covenant House are providing a full continuum of care and services to young homeless families – mother and child – with a two generation best practice approach.

“Offering a safe, structured and enriching learning environment fills a tremendous need for homeless children and their parents,” said Jim Kelly, Executive Director of Covenant House New Orleans. “A homeless parent who knows their child is in good care can begin to focus on getting their life in order and work towards self-sufficiency. The Early Head Start program at Covenant House is key to providing the comprehensive care that mends and strengthens families in need.”

“Our Head Start programs provide opportunities for children and families to rise from poverty and become successful citizens in their communities,” said Sr. Marjorie Hebert. “Children who participate in Head Start are less likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors in life such as substance abuse, teen pregnancy or committing violent crimes. Our students are also more likely to graduate high school and go on to college.”