February 07, 2017

Susan Kooperstein
Cell: 617-875-3619

Colneth Smiley
Desk: 617.348.6224
Cell: 617.872.9435

ABCD Holds Grand Opening for Head Start Early Learning Center
Serving 194 Low-income Children, Families in South End, Chinatown

Cardinal O’Malley to attend celebration, welcome new neighbors

ABCD launches “Save Head Start!” campaign
as threats to dismantle program surface


ABCD will celebrate the opening of its new Head Start center serving Boston’s Chinatown and South End communities on February 22 from 10:30 am to 12 noon. The state-of-the-art early learning center at 595 Harrison Avenue, Boston, will serve 194 low-income children and their families from birth to five-years-old, including 35 infants, toddlers and pregnant mothers in Early Head Start.


Cardinal Sean O’Malley, revered champion of the poor and a Head Start neighbor at the South End’s famed Cathedral of the Holy Cross, will speak at the event and visit with children, parents and supporters.


“ABCD is honored to welcome Boston’s beloved Cardinal and many other dignitaries and guests to cut the ribbon for this outstanding center serving low-income children and families of Boston’s South End and Chinatown,” said ABCD President/CEO John J. Drew. “These communities are home to thousands of families struggling to make ends meet and seeking the best education possible for their children.”

ABCD Head Start and Early Head Start provide gold-standard education, health and well-being to poor children and families seeking stepping stones to a better life.


“These children are America’s future,” said Drew. “They deserve the very best in early education and care. Head Start provides that for more than a million poor children and families nationwide.”


ABCD Head Start will also open a new center in Malden this spring, enhancing the life-changing benefits of the national early learning program for low-income residents and providing expansion of the Early Head Start program with its critically needed services for infants, toddlers and pregnant mothers.


ABCD launches “Save Head Start” campaign

Drew said there is real concern among Head Start parents, educators and supporters that Congress and the new administration may move to dismantle the longtime, high quality early care program that has provided opportunities for better lives for 33 million poor children and families over the past 52 years.


A former Head Start parent, Drew says there will be strong resistance to any threat to the federal Head Start program. “The national commitment to our poor children and families must not be lost,” he said. “Head Start could be an essential part of President Trump’s commitment to closing the inequality gap.”


He said that ABCD is launching a “Save Head Start!” campaign to ensure that this very important program survives and continues to benefit poor children and families. It includes a website SaveHeadStart.com and multiple initiatives to educate the public and policy-makers about the program.


“I ask President Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan, and all members of Congress to keep Head Start as a high-quality federal program,” said Mimi Tovar, Boston Head Start parent. “Head Start has supported my children’s education, health and growth. Because of Head Start, I have learned leadership skills and am returning to college to complete my bachelor’s degree. We cannot lose Head Start.”


Early Head Start harnesses brain development research

ABCD Early Head Start – a significant part of the new center and ABCD’s overall Head Start program – is unique among early learning institutions, leading the way in applying cutting-edge research on brain development in infants and young children to the needs of low-income families.  The Early Head Start approach to working with low-income pregnant mothers, infants and toddlers can provide children the start in life they need, well before they get to the 4-year-old pre-kindergarten age that many city and state early education programs focus upon.


Early Head Start was launched in 1994 when scientific advances drove a shift in understanding of how the earliest brain development impacts human health, achievement and well-being across the lifespan. Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy was at the forefront of the movement, stressing that creating the right conditions in early childhood is more effective and far less costly than addressing a multitude of problems later on.

A full-day, full-year program, ABCD Head Start currently serves 2,300 low-income children from birth to age 5 and their families in 24 ABCD centers plus several partner sites throughout Boston, Malden and Everett. Early Head Start, now at 12 sites, serves 282 infants, toddlers and pregnant mothers.


Over the past 52 years, the federal Head Start program has improved the lives of more than 33 million children from poor families across America, providing them with the skills and confidence to succeed in school and life. It has given Head Start parents educational opportunities to move up the economic ladder, empowered disadvantaged families and revitalized communities.  Head Start is renowned for its comprehensive services – education, health, dental, nutrition, social services – and intensive parent engagement.


Currently the national Head Start program is funded to serve only 42 percent of eligible preschool children and Early Head Start funding provides for only 4 percent of eligible infants and toddlers. ABCD says both programs should be expanded.


Increased funding has proven payback. A 2016 study by Nobel Laureate economist James Heckman, The Lifestyle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program, found that for every $1 invested in Head Start there is a $13 return on investment to society.
“ABCD Head Start has been at the forefront of quality and innovation in early education,” said Yvette Rodriguez, ABCD Vice President, Head Start & Children’s Services. “We have worked to fight childhood obesity, to involve fathers in their children’s education, to build school readiness, to provide opportunities for parents to build better lives and for our teachers to meet high standards. We are committed to joining with our colleagues across America to keep Head Start as a strong, national program.”

About ABCD

A Massachusetts-based non-profit human services organization, ABCD provides low-income residents in the Boston and Mystic Valley areas with the tools, support, and resources they need to transition from poverty to stability and from stability to success. Each year, we’ve served more than 100,000 individuals, elders and families through a broad range of innovative initiatives as well as long-established, proven programs and services. For more than 50 years, ABCD has been deeply rooted in each neighborhood we serve, empowering individuals and families and supporting them in their quest to live with dignity and achieve their highest potential. For more, please visit bostonabcd.org.