Federal grant will fund repair of Sandy damage, purchase of generators
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-09-NJ) announced that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded Passaic Family Head Start, Inc. a $2,318,418 federal grant that will fund the repair of damage sustained during Hurricane Sandy, along with the purchase of generators for two of their locations which will allow them to serve as community resource centers in the event of future power outages.
"As a former educator, I know how important programs like Passaic Family Head Start are to jumpstarting a child's education and providing nutritional and health services," said Rep. Pascrell, a former high school teacher and member of the House Ways and Means Committee. "By making this investment in rebuilding Passaic Family Head Start stronger and better prepared for future disasters, we are also making an investment in the education and health of our children. Our nation recognizes the importance of early childhood education in bettering a student’s chances of success later in life, which is why I'll continue to fight to ensure this critical program has the resources it needs to succeed."
In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated two of Passaic Family Head Start's facilities located on Third St. and Highland Ave. in the City of Passaic. The roofs of both facilities were destroyed as a result of high winds and fallen trees, resulting in extensive interior water damage. The Highland Ave. facility also lost power for close to 10 days resulting in operational interruptions, including meal services to hundreds of children.
The $2.3 million federal grant will fund the replacement of the roofs at both facilities along with the purchase of generators that will provide power in the event of future outages. The generators will not only allow this critical program to remain operational during any future power failures, but also transform both facilities into community resource centers during future outages resulting from a devastating storm or heat wave.
"Each child that enters a Head Start program receives more than an education. They also receive screenings for Health, Dental, Immunizations, Hearing, Vision, Lead Poisoning, Nutrition, Speech, Language, Mental Health and Disabilities," said Dr. Lillian Ramos, Passaic Family Head Start’s executive director. "This federal grant will allow us to continue quality services by improving our infrastructure and plan for the future in the event of any major power outages. These federal funds will also allow us to place full facility generators, which in turn will allow us to be a community resource center if a major power outage occurs again."
The Passaic Family Head Start Program has been serving preschool 3 and 4 year old children since 1974 and currently serves 255 children representing 250 families from the City of Passaic. These families are primarily low income working families, those presently receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) services, or former TANF families.
"I applaud Congressman Pascrell for his unwavering support of the children and families of Passaic," said Mayor Dr. Alex Blanco. "As we continue to rebuild from Hurricane Sandy's devastation, it is reassuring to know that Congressman Pascrell is continuing to fight with me on behalf of the City of Passaic.”
Since 1965, Head Start programs, overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, have provided comprehensive education, nutrition, health and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families.