Construction will soon begin in Hamilton Township, N.J., on a new Early Head Start center for The Children's Home Society of New Jersey (CHSofNJ).
Earlier this year, the agency was awarded a federal grant to expand its Early Head Start center-based program. With it, the CHSofNJ has purchased and begun accepting construction bids to renovate 1435 Liberty Street in Hamilton.
The building, which previously housed an adult day center, will undergo extensive renovations to now deliver care and education for 80 infants, toddlers and their families.
Located on the border of Hamilton and Trenton, the facility also will provide office space for the program's home visitors, who will serve an additional 147 infants, toddlers and pregnant women.
The reconfigured space will include 10 classrooms – five infant classrooms and five toddler classrooms; ample indoor play space and an outdoor playground; office space for staff and the program nurse; conference rooms and community meeting space; and a laundry room.
In addition, the Hamilton Early Head Start building will include a commercial-grade kitchen to prepare daily meals and snacks as well as nutritious food for socialization events for all 541 infants, toddlers, preschoolers and pregnant moms enrolled in CHSofNJ's Head Start/Early Head Start (HS/EHS) programs, including those served at the agency's existing four sites in Trenton.
Zoning approval was obtained in November, and construction is expected to begin in early January 2021. Construction is anticipated to be completed next July 2021, and the facility should be operational in time for the 2021/2022 school year. This project will create an estimated 50 local construction jobs and ongoing employment for 40 early childhood and support staff.
"The Children's Home Society of New Jersey Early Head Start program is proud to provide these important early childhood education services in Trenton, and we are thrilled to now expand our reach to serve families in Hamilton as well," stated Isaac Dorsey, executive director of CHSofNJ Head Start/Early Head Start.
"From our conversations with Hamilton Mayor Jeff Martin it is clear that he shares our vision and goal to strengthen and support families in our community to achieve their full potential. We are truly grateful for the opportunity to partner with the cities of Trenton and Hamilton in our mission of saving children's lives and building healthy families."
The Head Start/Early Head Start program embraces the comprehensive services model to promote school readiness in children from low-income families. The program supports children's growth and development in a positive learning environment through a variety of services, including evidence-based early childhood education, health, mental health and disabilities services, family support services that also include help with education/training and employment, and parent engagement in their children's education.
Children enrolled in Early Head Start can transition into CHSofNJ's Head Start program. As a result of the EHS and HS options, CHSofNJ offers families education and support from pregnancy through age five.
"We are grateful that The Children's Home Society of NJ decided to make Hamilton the home for their Early Head Start Center," said Martin. "The services provided by Head Start programs are critical for low-income families and children in the most impactful time of their lives and have proven to have immediate and lasting effects across multiple generations. Under the leadership of Mr. Isaac Dorsey, the Hamilton center is sure to help our community thrive under the Head Start model for many years to come."