Since Catholic Charities began its Head Start and Early Head Start programs, parents have repeatedly stressed their need and appreciation for the programs. That’s why it was clear that the summer programs needed to happen, even at a distance.

“The program encourages the kids to learn during the summer and keep them in a routine,” one parent said.

“I was able to work full time while my child had a place to continue to learn new things,” said another.

In 16 Head Start and Early Head Start programs, located Baltimore City and Harford and Carroll Counties, about 300 children ages infant through 5 receive remote summer programming. There’s a special focus on those who are planning transitions to the Maryland public school kindergartens and those with special needs. The pandemic requires things to run differently this year, with remote fun and learning activities and even more parent involvement.

Families move forward 

The virtual curriculum will continue to promote school and learning readiness by enhancing children’s social and cognitive development. It works through educational, health, nutritional, social and other programming offered not only to the kids, but also to their families. Head Start engages parents in their children’s learning and helps parents work toward their own educational, literacy and employment goals.

“The challenges of the COVID-19 crisis haven’t changed our commitment to our work with children and families,” said Administrator Liza Frye.

The outreach and training efforts of Head Start and Early Head Start programs have helped provide low-income parents with the knowledge and services they need to build a better life for their children.

“The summer program gave my child a safe and educational environment during summer break,” one parent shared.

Proven success

The program has led in efforts to improve students’ cognitive abilities. Studies have indicated that Head Start children score higher than comparable non-Head Start children in preschool achievement tests that measure these abilities.

Catholic Charities Head Start and Early Head Start is federally funded by the Office of Head Start/Health and Human Services. Funds for summer programming also come from the Maryland State Department of Education, and, in recent years, the Baltimore Mayor’s Office and Casino Commission.