Ironbound’s Early Head Start is located in the Ironbound Early Learning Center at 1 New York Avenue. This facility is a state-of-the-art, LEED certified center built with the support of a $5.5 million donation from a private philanthropist and $1 million in NJ Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credits from PSEG, Valley National bank, and TD Bank. The program is funded through the federal Office of Head Start and foundation grants from the Turrell Fund, Schumann Fund for NJ, and the Healthcare Foundation of NJ.
Early Head Start provides care, education, and interventions for at-risk children ages birth to 3 and their families, as well as pregnant women. The program serves the neediest: participating families are at or below 100% of the poverty level (approximately $25,000 for a family of 4) and are selected based upon the greatest needs.
Research shows that the earliest years of a child’s life are the most critical for healthy brain development and that children in disadvantaged families typically receive less support in many regards, from the vocabulary they are exposed to to the number of books in the household to the stressors their families face. Early Head Start attempts to address these challenges with well-trained teachers in classes with a 1:4 adult to child ratio and comprehensive supportive services for children and families, including medical examinations, mental health care, and interventions to address various disabilities and delays.
ICC’s anecdotal evidence and families’ reports indicate that children “graduating” from Early Head Start and moving into Preschool are typically better prepared socially, emotionally and otherwise to make the transition, play alongside their peers, and begin learning immediately.