Save East Harlem Council for Human Services, Inc. Bilingual Head Start Program

Save East Harlem Council for Human Services, Inc. Bilingual Head Start Program

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Jeffrey Valentin started this petition to Representative Adriano Espaillat and

The Bilingual Head Start Program Site I is located on 116th between 1st Avenue and Pleasant Avenue. This program has serviced the families of East Harlem for 50 years and is now in jeopardy of being extinct. I am a parent of a child who began attending this school since she was of age 2, she is now 4 years old and will soon leave this program and enter kindergarten. However, my heart aches for the children who will no longer benefit from this much needed program. The community of East Harlem has survived waves of economic downturns, but as you can imagine none has compared to that of the one that has been caused by this horrible pandemic. Still, in the midst of a pandemic this school kept their doors open for the many mothers and fathers who had to continue to maintain and support their families financially. East Harlem Bilingual Head Start Program offers an array of programs for our community and has fought many years to achieve the high standards of quality education. For example, this program offers English classes for English as a second language, parenting classes, nutrition classes, referral services for outside facilities and IEP services for special education. This program takes so much pride in cooking all of the food given to our children made from scratch. No canned foods, no pre-packaged, microwaveable or packed with preservatives foods...everything is cooked fresh everyday. This program fought for years to make this a sugar free zone in order to avoid ice cream and ices trucks to stand in front of the school at dismissal and achieved their goal to keep our children sugar free. 

The staff here is amazing. I simply can not express in enough words how this program and the staff members, who by the way have 20+ years working there have helped this community. From the minute you walk inside, everyone greets you and your children with smiles, handshakes and once upon a time, hugs. I could see the face on my child when they saw fellow classmates and classroom teachers, and I can’t compare the excitement on her face. Along with warm and loving, the staff is disciplined which establishes a sense of respect between the families and school. As a product of New York City public schools, I remember far too well parents of fellow classmates never caring to create a partnership with the school, but this program embraces the families regardless of your socio-economic or cultural differences.

Unfortunately, due to the budget cuts that New York City is receiving this year, this program and that wonderful staff who have years working there are in danger of loosing more than 75% of the seats offered to the children in East Harlem. It is unjustifiable how a program that was at full capacity last year, is now being ripped from our community. Our hearts are shattered, and we need help keeping this program open to our children. They are the future doctors, astronomers, scientists, teachers, engineers and lovers of our planet. East Harlem can not afford to lose the 100% capacity of this program. I am pleading with you all, if not for me, please help our children who today may not have a voice but tomorrow will. 

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