Health and Human Services awards $5.5 million toward Flint Early Head Start expansion
In an announcement by Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI), as well as Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Debbie
Stabenow (D-MI), it was unveiled last week that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded a total of $5.5 million to the Flint, Michigan for the expansion of child care programs in the area.
That money going toward Early Head Start Child Care Partnership programs will be divided into two lump sums: $2.3 million for Genesee County and $3.2 million for the Genesee Intermediate School District. It
is a response to the water crisis the city has been in since 2014, as the programs offer development screenings and referrals to medical, dental, nutrition, vision and mental health services. They also provide certain necessities for the young, such as diapers.
“Early education like Head Start is one of the most important investments that we can make to help children overcome lead exposure,” Kildee said. “It is critical that we invest in wrap-around services for Flint families as they recover from this crisis, including educational, nutritional and developmental support. Flint is a strong community and I know that our families and children can overcome lead exposure if they get the resources they need to succeed.”
Stabenow also said that such long-term support efforts are what the children of Flint truly need, in the wake of their waterborne disaster.
“Good nutrition, medical care and early childhood education can make all the difference in helping Flint’s children succeed,” Stabenow said.
This is not the first time the three legislators have teamed up to assist Flint’s recovery efforts, though. Last year, Peters, Stabenow and Kildee introduced legislation to expand Head Start programs and enrollment for Flint children exposed to lead. The HHS had responded positively to that, as well, awarding a $3.6 million grant for Flint’s preschoolers in the program in March 2016.
Beyond the grant money from the HHS, Head Start programming is administered by local public and private nonprofit and for-profit agencies alike. The additional resources being given will go toward training and professional development for staff, improvement of facilities, as well as upgrades to supplies and equipment.