WEST VALLEY CITY (ABC4 Utah) – A member of Utah’s Congressional Delegation got a first hand look at how federal funds are being used to help lift children out of poverty.
The Early Head Start program is all about intervening on behalf of at risk children in our state. The Children’s Place in West Valley City is one location helping them rise above their circumstances.
“These families have high risk issues. Anywhere from mental health to social service issues, financial, domestic violence,” said Program Coordinator Martha Velasco.
At The Children’s Place they work to build a foundation to help these children break the chains.
They provide early development activities, health and wellness, social services and school readiness programs.
Representative Chris Stewart hit the front lines to read to some of the children, and tour the facility.
“This is a place where federal and state dollars can really make a difference. And, if we can make a difference when they are really young like this, then we will make a difference for the rest of their lives,” said Stewart, (R) Utah.
Stewart says he is committed to funding the program. He says it’s a small investment now that can pay big dividends later.
Velasco knows that first hand. She was once a student in the very program she now coordinates.
“Now I get to give back by being a program coordinator. I can not believe that this dream of Head Start has been around for over 50 years, and we are still successful,” Velasco said.
The program receives $1.4 million a year from the federal government to serve 66 children, but Velasco says they could triple that number. That’s why they would like to get more money from Congress.
Early Head Start is free of charge to parents. To qualify, families must be at or below the federal poverty level.