Greater Bergen Community Action (GBCA) has partnered with the Garfield Public School District, the only state-funded district in Bergen County, to provide free Head Start services in seven Garfield Public School classrooms consisting of 105 children, ages 3-5, and their families. This collaboration enables GBCA to enhance the existing curriculum by offering Head Start’s fundamental family support aspect, among other additional services. Families receiving GBCA Head Start’s programming and services are each assigned a family worker who helps create and identify goals for the children and their families, as well as an education liaison who makes home visits, helps with screenings for the children, and collaborates with lead teachers to ensure student progress.
Mayor of Garfield, Richard Rigoglioso, said of the partnership, “Greater Bergen is the future of the kids. They make sure that the preschool kids get more than just preschool material. They teach them how to socialize when they get to kindergarten, how to count, and use technology – everything preschoolers need. And that’s why they call it Head Start.”
Families also benefit from services by GBCA Head Start’s Food and Nutrition Department, which provides nutrition counseling by Registered Dietitians. Parents are also encouraged to participate in other relevant GBCA offerings such as ESL and Citizenship classes, the High School Equivalency program, and 1st Bergen Federal Credit Union services, to name a few.
Greater Bergen Community Action President and CEO, Robert F. Halsch, said: “We are more than just educators. We are here to add value. We are here to bring to the whole family healthcare, assistance with housing, assistance with language training – and so many more things. We’re going to grow our children and our families together, with an amazing future built from a foundation of the children of Garfield.“
GBCA continues exploring ways to expand the partnership so that it can bring more services to Garfield children and families in need.