Head Start Continues
To Thrive in NYC
Fourteen years later, the Bank Street College branch of Head Start is still going strong.
Fern Khan, Dean of the Division of Continuing Education at Bank Street College, led a breakfast on December 16th to discuss the progress Head Start has made and its plans for the future. The program was started 14 years ago in the Harlem area as a shelter for homeless families. After operating there for 18 months, it has since moved into the Bank Street College Division of Continuing Education (DCE) and now serves 97 children and families.
“Head Start is incredibly comprehensive in its services,” said Khan. “It’s not just about the children, but also about families and their needs.”
Family was a reoccurring theme throughout the morning as Khan explained how Head Start works to help parents as well as children. In addition to strongly encouraging parent involvement, Head Start also helps provide parents with job training and referrals, as well as with enrolling in adult education and GED programs. A recent study done by NYU graduate students demonstrated the positive impact that head start can have on families.
“Kids that came from Head Start were able to successfully transition into public schools,” said Khan. “They were able to better relate to adults and weren’t as shy. Parents also talked about the support they got such as social workers accompanying them to meetings.” Khan said the future goal of the Bank Street branch of Head Start was to link the program to a graduate school and have graduate students placed with Head Start.
Steven Antonelli, Administrative Director for the Bank Street branch of Head Start, said he felt passionate about the values and mission of the program. “Children who come through this program are learning how to think and how to plan,” said Antonelli. “It’s really high-level academics.”
Keisha Williams, a former graduate of Head Start and the head of DAPC, has now enrolled her daughter into the program. “As the old saying goes, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ said Williams. “Whenever I drop my child off here, I feel that I’m sending her to that village. There’s a level of prestige here and it’s very clear as to why that is.”
A formal structure has been put into place so that the Head Start performance standard is maintained. Parents are involved in the hiring of new staff and the assessment of education programs, and monthly parent meetings also take place.
Amy Guzman, Assistant Comissioner and a Bank Street graduate, said the goal of the Head Start initiative in New York City was to have 19,000 students enrolled. They are currently at just over 18,000 students. Williams encouraged all parents to enroll their children in the program.
“The program is both school and family, and Head Start allows that relationship to develop by allowing parents to help create their children’s experience. It really is the best head start my child could have.#