Community Action to Grow Early Childhood Programming, Expand Workforce in Lincoln
On April 21, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and Community Action Partnership of Lancaster and Saunders Counties (www.communityactionatwork.org) announced that Community Action has received a $1,660,500 annual grant from Head Start to expand its Early Head Start programming in Lincoln. Funding will allow Community Action to build its early childhood enrollment capacity from 421 to 493, adding 72 full-day, full-year center-based enrollment slots for infants and toddlers. In addition to expanding access to high-quality early childhood education, the grant will create 30 new jobs in Lincoln. Community Action is actively recruiting early childhood professionals to join its team.
This additional funding will enable the agency to open another center, housing nine classrooms, at 26th and N Streets, in an area where child poverty rates are among the highest in the city. Community Action estimates that there are approximately 2,000 infants and toddlers in Lincoln who would income-qualify for Early Head Start services. Opening the new early childhood education center is possible in part thanks to the partnership of Speedway Properties, who will be remodeling their property at 2615 O St. to accommodate young learners. The agency expects the center to be fully operational by fall to provide seven hours of services Monday through Friday at no cost to families.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to not only provide kindergarten-readiness services to more children, but to give more parents a cost-free childcare option as they work and participate in programs to build economic stability,” said Community Action Executive Director Vi See.
Community support is also needed to make this program expansion possible. The agency needs to raise just over $61,000 to support the purchase of furniture and supplies to ready nine classrooms before fall. Things like cribs, cubbies, tables and chairs, and educational materials will all be needed before children are welcomed into the new space.
“We’re fortunate to be in such a giving community, and one that understands the importance of ensuring access to early childhood education,” See said. “We certainly invite all individuals, groups, businesses, and other entities to partner with us to give children in our community the opportunity to succeed.”
Community Action has been welcoming children and families from at-risk backgrounds into its Head Start early childhood education programs in Lincoln for more than 55 years. Their center-based programs respond to a critical local need for high-quality, affordable, full-day early childhood education services. To learn more about Community Action Head Start, view available job openings, or donate, visit www.communityactionatwork.org.