United Way of Greater New Haven, together with LULAC Head Start, Inc., and The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, commissioned a Community Needs Assessment to better understand and serve the needs of families with young children.

The Community Needs Assessment was conducted to help local Head Start and Early Head Start programs improve their services by focusing on the needs and priorities in the community by surveying the cities and towns where the programs and services are: New Haven, West Haven, Hamden, and East Haven.

Head Start, which serves children ages 3 to 5, and Early Head Start, which serves children from birth to age 3, are both federal to local programs that provide child-development and family-centered services for low-income children and their families.

United Way and LULAC are both grantees for Head Start/Early Head Start and each organization manages these complex programs by using local and state funds to leverage federal dollars to meet a high priority need in our community.

Locally, United Way works with four community partners in Hamden, West Haven, and New Haven and has served nearly 400 children through Early Head Start since 2009. LULAC directly operates four child care centers in New Haven and East Havenserving more than 300 children and families each year in Early Head Start and Head Start.

This two-generational program focuses on the well-being of the child, as well as building a relationship with the family. Children benefit from the nurturing and learning provided in a year-round, high-quality program, while parents are connected to services that enable them to pursue goals such as going back to school and getting a job.

The following results of the assessment are findings of the 4 cities and towns in the service area of 275,868 people:

  • Today, single-parent families account for 44% of all families with children under age six, with approximately 25% of the population of children under age five living at or below the federal poverty level.
  • Child care remains the most expensive budget item for households with two or more young children with only 18% of approximately 629 center-based infant and toddler spaces in New Haven offering a sliding fee scale.
  • Head Start serves 56% of eligible children in the service area, and Early Head Start serves only 10% of the eligible children.
  • The struggle to meet basic needs for housing, food, and transportation is a major stressor and interferes with parents’ ability to secure training and employment at living wage jobs and to support their children’s care and education.

The results of this assessment show a need for expansion of high-quality infant toddler programming, like Early Head Start, to close a gap in slots available for infants and toddlers, as well as a need for increased collaboration and communication across the array of early childhood initiatives in the service area.

This assessment will be used to advocate and plan for the support of public investments in the areas of workforce development, transportation, affordable housing, and other factors related to poverty that ultimately affect the quality of life for these families and their children.

For the entire Community Needs Assessment, visit here. And for more on United Way’s Early Head Start work, click here.


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