Federal funding to go towards expanding Head Start program in Niagara Falls

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Nearly $2.5 million in federal funding is set to go towards expanding the Head Start program within the Niagara Falls City School District, it was announced on Monday.

The money, announced by Congressman Tim Kennedy, will go towards adding more classes for children as young as 1-year-old as well as funding staff salaries to support growing class sizes.

Unlike most Head Start programs, the program in Niagara Falls is tied to the city school district, which has allowed the district to track progress. Superintendent Mark Laurrie said that according to a study conducted by the district, children who are a part of the program have better attendance rates and higher test scores. Laurrie said that the first group of Head Start students in Niagara Falls are now in sixth grade.

Laurrie said that the program currently has five classes for 1-and 2-year-old children, and is hoping to expand to seven.

“That investment young certainly makes them better students,” Laurrie said. “We have to continue to do more outreach, continue to do more information.”

As part of that, the district is offering a free class on reading and writing for parents through Niagara County Community College that offers college credit.

“It’s a proven program for parents and children alike,” Kennedy said. “[This] will help thousands of parents to grow, and it is a direct engagement with the youth and families.”

You can view Monday’s announcement in the video player above.

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Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.

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