United Way Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership is serving 320 children, 17 early education sites and more than 100 early education professionals

In December 2014, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded United Way of Miami-Dade a 5-year, $22.5 million federal grant to raise the quality of early care and education for infants and toddlers in some of Miami-Dade’s high-need communities, including Liberty City, Little Havana, Florida City and Coconut Grove, among others.  Over the past year, the United Way Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership (the Partnership) has offered comprehensive services to 320 children, their families and teachers in 17 early care and education centers and family childcare homes.  United Way is hosting a grand opening of the Partnership Building on May 10, at 9:00 a.m., at 3125 SW 3rd Ave, Miami.

“This grant gave us the opportunity to take ten years of experiences from the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education into neighborhoods that need it most,” Gladys Montes, vice president, United Way of Miami-Dade, said.  “It’s never a one size fits all when it comes to teaching and learning – so to help these early education partners, children and families succeed, we meet them where they’re at, we take into account the dynamics of each program and community, and we design personalized plans to help them reach their full potential.”

The Partnership provides its Early Head Start child care partners with:

  • an annual reimbursement ranging from $6,500 – $8,500 per child;
  • early, continuous, intensive and comprehensive child development and family support services to enhance the physical, social, emotional and intellectual development of participating children;
  • health, developmental and behavioral screenings for the infants and toddlers;
  • a system to ensure that children with documented health, developmental and/or behavioral issues, receive appropriate referrals and services;
  • parenting skills and basic child development trainings to support families;
  • increased professional development opportunities for teachers, staff and administrators;
  • consultations to ensure compliance with standards and proper assessments are being completed and documented;
  • IT services, including mobile data plans for some early education sites;
  • and classroom furniture, supplies, diapers, infant formula allowance, medical supplies and more…

To offer these services to children and their families, the Partnership works with like-minded organizations, including: Branches; Fruity Veggie Nutrition; The Nest: An Emotional Wellness Center; Hearing and Speech Center of Florida; Early Steps; The Children’s Forum; University of Miami; and Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS). These partners help connect families to a web of services that address their needs.

The Partnership also works with M-DCPS to develop seamless transitions for children from the time they attend Early Head Start programs through kindergarten.  Every infant and toddler in the program already has a M-DCPS student number, so we can best understand their future success in school.

Income-based disparities can affect children’s vocabulary starting as early as 18 months of age, high quality early learning programs for infants and toddlers are a key ingredient to changing the odds for children in our community, cited in Harvard University’s Five Numbers to Remember About Early Childhood Development.

Without high-quality early education, at-risk children are: 25 percent more likely to drop out of school; 40 percent more likely to become a teen parent; 50 percent more likely to be placed in special education; 60 percent more likely to never attend college; and 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime, according to the Center for American Progress’ Increasing the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Existing Public Investments in Early Childhood Education.

As part of the Partnership, the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education and M-DCPS joined forces to offer high quality Early Head Start at Ethel Beckford/Richmond Elementary, a repurposed elementary school in Perrine. Unlike the other Early Head Start partners, at this site, United Way staff runs day-to-day operations and offers quality early care and education and comprehensive services to 48 infants and toddlers and their families.

The other 16 Early Head Start-Child Care partners include: A New World Academy, Liberty City; Bright Steps Academy, Little Havana; Gingerbread House Day Care, Wynwood; Las Americas Learning Center, Miami; Mitchell Large Family Child Care Home, Florida City; Osman Family Day Care Home, Opa Locka; St. Albans Day Nursery Inc., Coconut Grove; The Children’s Place Child Care Center, Little Haiti; Villa Preparatory Academy, Florida City; Williams Large Family Child Care Home, Florida City; Clements Family Day Care Home, NW Miami-Dade; Pink and Blue Children’s Academy, Miami Gardens; Martin Luther King YMCA, Brownsville; Sasame Street Child Care Center, Brownsville; and Easter Seals, Civic Center.

Six of these 17 Early Head start partners are offering care and education to infants for the first time, which is a huge undertaking and helps many working families.  Additionally, this June, 82 out of the 85 teachers from the 17 sites are receiving an important national certification to better prepare them to work with young children and their families, the Child Development Associate Credential (CDA).