The McGaw YMCA has opened a satellite branch of its early childhood education program in partnership with the Childcare Network of Evanston at the Family Focus building at 2010 Dewey Ave.
The new Head Start Center includes two classrooms for children ages 3 to 5.
Monique Parsons, McGaw’s chief operations officer, says the new center will bring the Y’s early childhood education programming “to the community where it’s needed the most.”
Head Start is a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that promotes school readiness for children from low-income families by providing comprehensive services including early learning, access to medical, dental, and mental health services, and support and education for caregivers.
These services will ensure children from the 5th ward, where the percentage of low-income families is higher than the rest of Evanston, will begin their career education on equal footing, ready to learn.
“There has been a long-standing commitment — from both the McGaw YMCA and CNE — to provide the underserved 5th Ward with high-quality early education that will prepare children for kindergarten and give families access to a multitude of integrated services,” said McGaw Children’s Center Branch Executive Director Nicole Woodard.
CNE has gained a reputation as one of the “gold standard” providers of Head Start services in and around the Evanston community. CNE’s interim executive director, Carol Teske, said the partnership between CNE and the McGaw YMCA ensures that more families will benefit from these wraparound services.
“This is a perfect example of how two organizations work together to address a significant need in our community,” Teske said. “We hope this partnership will provide a foundation for collaboration, now and into the future, to create multiple supportive networks and promote a strong start to kindergarten for our young children.”
Family Focus Director Collette Allen said Family Focus already is a hub for many 5th Ward families, and having Head Start classrooms will further enhance the continuity of services. For example, Family Focus provides home visits for families of children under 3 years old, and the Children’s Center offers after school and summer learning programming through its Foster Reading Center (FRC).
“All the kids are coming here to our location,” Allen said. “One young man gets here and picks up his sister for one classroom and then gets his brother from FRC.”