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BHK receives CARES Act funding, plans slow and safe reopening

Nationally, $750 million has been designated for Head Start programs through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support preventative, preparedness, and response activities related to the coronavirus. Funds will be released directly to all 1,600 Head Start and Early Head Start programs, including tribal programs, in every state and territory beginning in July.

BHK Child Development Board’s (‘BHK’) CARES Act funds will support comprehensive early education programs for children birth to age five from at-risk backgrounds in Baraga, Houghton, and Keweenaw Counties. From early reading and math skills to confidence and resilience, BHK helps children build the abilities they need to be successful in school and life.

“This $750 million for Head Start will help ensure that children and families who rely on the program continue receiving services like meals, health screenings, and pre-K education where possible. As we move toward safely reopening, it only grows more important that we support vulnerable families and children whose lives have been disrupted by the virus and its economic effects”, said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

“We know that investing in programs that use a whole family approach to learning and development can be pivotal to the success of children and families,” said Lynn Johnson, assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families. “During this pandemic, it is important to support programs that enrich and enlighten children, families, and communities as they work towards their goals and make concentrated efforts to improve their future post pandemic.”

“The CARES Act funding has provided the means for us to be able to purchase additional cleaning supplies, personal protective wear, non-contact thermometers, and to offset the higher operating costs due to increased prices for food and supplies”, said Cheryl Mills, Executive/Head Start Director. “During this crisis, we have been able to provide crisis response to our enrolled children and families, including health and education materials, family wellness support, and connection to community resources.”

Today we have so much data about the importance of early childhood development, like the fact that more than 90% of a child’s brain develops from birth to age 4. To support income-eligible children who have experienced a disruption of services during this time, BHK is planning to provide a Preschool Summer Camp with a focus on preparing enrolled children for the coming school year. “Our Preschool Summer Camp will provide a social and emotionally supportive learning environment and consistent daily routines for children who are entering kindergarten in the fall,” said Mills. “It will also support children in getting up to date on the medical, dental, and other follow-up services they need to succeed in school.”

BHK year round Early Head Start and Head Start preschool classes plan to reopen slowly and safely, beginning July 13, following guidance from Michigan licensing and health authorities regarding consistent and smaller group sizes, practicing physical distance to the extent possible and wearing face coverings. “We have strong infection control policies in place and staff have received comprehensive training to safely resume Head Start services”, said Katie Waara, BHK Health Services Manager. “The health and safety of our staff and the children and families we serve is our highest priority.”

BHK is currently recruiting children and families for fall enrollment. Contact us at 482-3663 or 524-7300 for more information.

Learn more about BHK programs at www.bhkfirst.org or follow us on Facebook.

Find additional information about Head Start programming specific to this public health crisis on the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center website: https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/coronavirus

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