Page B-5Thanks to a new partnership with Southwest Solutions, Detroit parents will have access to 753 early childhood learning slots, including 238 slots for three- and four-year-olds in 14 classrooms in four Detroit Public Schools buildings.

Southwest Solutions is funding these 14 classrooms using Head Start and/or Great Start Readiness Program funds. The classrooms are located in these schools in southwest Detroit:

  • Durfee Elementary-Middle School will offer three (3) Head Start classes.
  •  Earhart Elementary-Middle School is offering two (2) Head Start classes and one (1) Head Start/GSRP class.
  •  Mark Twain School for Scholars is offering two (2) Head Start classes. DPS this year successfully launched the Mark Twain School for Scholars, a gifted and talented program that witnessed an 11 percent enrollment boost.
  • Beard Early Learning Neighborhood Center will offer five (5) Head Start and one (1) Head Start/GSRP classrooms beginning in January. Last year, the Beard/Roberto Clemente neighborhood was home to the highest concentration of Pre-K students in DPS. The district also plans to have a comprehensive adult education center at Beard to complement the early learning center.

“We are extremely excited to be partnering with Southwest Solutions to offer our parents 238 additional early childhood slots, which will only serve to build upon our existing high-quality early childhood offerings across the district,” said Karen Ridgeway, Superintendent of Academics for DPS. “We know that children need a successful foundation in early childhood to have a bright future.”

In addition to these 238 slots for three and four-year-olds, parents in southwest Detroit will have access to Southwest Solutions’ Early Head Start. This program serves pregnant women and children birth to three years old and provides free, comprehensive child development services as well as support services for parents.

The new Head Start and Early Head Start slots are part of a new federally-funded initiative called Birth to Five. Southwest Solutions’ Birth to Five serves low-income families in the 48206, 48208, 48209, 48210, 48216 and 48217 zip codes. Birth to Five offers both home-based and center-based programming. The goal is to improve the health and readiness-to-learn of children before they enter preschool and kindergarten. Participants must meet federal income requirements.

“What makes Birth to Five unique and significant is its focus on the whole family,” said Donna Cielma, director of Early Childhood and School Based Services at Southwest Solutions. “By addressing the needs of the whole family, it is a promising approach to help break the cycle of generational poverty.”

Birth to Five services include:

  • English and Spanish assistance.
  • Early childhood education, medical and dental referrals, nutrition and healthy living classes, mental health/disabilities and parent support services, and more.
  • Home-based services by Early Childhood Educators through regularly scheduled visits to the home.
  •  Center-based services for parents who work 20 or more hours per week or who are in school part-time (6 credit hours).

Southwest Solutions is actively recruiting eligible families for its Birth to Five sites. For more information, parents should contact 313-596-4766.

Southwest Solutions, like all partner agencies providing Head Start classes in DPS schools, is paying DPS rental income.

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