On Monday at 10:30 a.m. a kickoff ceremony and ceremonial “wall-breaking” was held at 1725 Broad Street in Cranston, where a new renovation and expansion project will be taking place to create a new Comprehensive Community Action Program (CCAP) Head Start daycare center facility.
The CCAP Child Development Centers Head Start Program is being awarded a $938,708 federal renovation grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Office of Head Start. The project also includes state and local monies.
In April 2018, CCAP purchased the building, which will allow CCAP to expand the number of classrooms serving infants six weeks to three years old and children who are three, four and five years old. The new, state-of-the-art Head Start site will enable the program to be more neighborhood focused in the northeast part of Cranston.
Joanne McGunagle, president and CEO of CCAP welcomed guests to the ceremony.
“This has been a dream of ours for a long time. We’ve never really had our own facility in Edgewood for our children here, and our dream has always been to have children learn and be educated within their own community, so we’ve leased land and borrowed and now we actually have a home here in Edgewood,” she said. “Our dear friend Senator Reed helped us to secure a grant for $938,000 to renovate this building so it will be converted into three classrooms. Along with that, we also received a grant from Speaker [Nicholas] Mattiello in the amount of $25,000 to pay for the security because now we have to pay attention to bulletproof glass and glass resistant doors and windows, unfortunately. Along with that we always receive support from Mayor Fung through contributive support in his budget for our childcare programs and additional funding with the efforts of Councilman Stycos. I can’t tell you how appreciative we are to all of these men and their help to us for getting this project up and running.”
Senator Jack Reed thanked McGunagle for her leadership and friendship over the years.
“Head Start program is a wonderful, wonderful program There are over 200 preschoolers here in Cranston that participate, infants and toddlers also, and throughout the state, there’s about 2600 Head Start students, infants, and toddlers and it does something more than just keep kids occupied. It promotes a healthy physical and emotional development which is a critical aspect of success as you go forward in school, and one of the key aspects of Head Start which I think is fabulous is that it involves the parents,” Reed said. “Parents are involved in every aspect of the program and that is one of the keys to success to education for every child no matter where you come from.”
Reed stated that investing in children pays off and noted that the Head Start program has increased nationally as well.
McGonagle thanked Mayor Allan Fung for his continued support of the program as she welcomed him to the podium.
“He never refuses when I ask for anything,” she said.
Fung thanked CCAP and Reed for their support of initiatives that impact education.
“I want to take a moment to also congratulate Joanne and her team at CCAP for all the wonderful work that they do,” he said. “Here today, this new state of the art facility is going to enable many more programs to be provided to many of the children throughout Cranston and throughout many of the areas where there is an increased need for that educational door to be opened up at an earlier stage that’s critically important. We’ve seen it and, sadly, we’ve heard it, with the RICAS scores that just came out. Building that foundation even more with programs like Head Start builds a lasting foundation for many of the kids to start off on the right foot. Head Start and Early Head Start as the Senator indicated, serve approximately 75 percent of our eligible children right here in Cranston. The need is there and CCAP programs promote a lot of school readiness, engage the students and their families at an earlier age.”
McGonagle introduced Councilman Steve Stycos, Ward 1 and expressed her thanks to him for his frequent phone calls asking what he can do to help CCAP, and what their needs are.
“It’s incredible because I’ll give him all of that and then we get it,” she said. “I thank you Councilman Stycos for getting us a separate appropriation for Head Start for the last several years, and it goes right here back into Edgewood for these children.”
Stycos began by thanking President Lyndon Johnson who was responsible for the war on poverty.
“This is really one of the great programs that has proven itself year in and year out, along with all of the other community action programs which were also begun under the Johnson administration,” he said. “I want to welcome CCAP to a permanent home. This is really great that we have a permanent building here. It was I think five years ago when the federal government cut funding for Head Start in one of those budget reconciliation wars and the city council stepped up and unanimously appropriated $50,000 to CCAP to replace the money that the federal government had cut. Every year since that time the mayor has included that money in his budget and the city council has approved it, so it’s been a real bipartisan team effort for a program that is proven itself. I hope this is the beginning of efforts like this.
Stycos said initiatives like this one were sorely needed in America during modern times.
“I think nationally we certainly need to move into spending more money on education, and the environment, and healthcare and less money on wars in foreign countries and supporting the Saudis and things like that and I think it’s really hurting us here at home and really hurting people in Yemen and Afghanistan and around the world. We’re contributing to violence,” he said. “I hope we keep our focus on programs like this where we are giving a hand to kids who need a hand and who deserve a hand. It’s just going to be…great, they can just walk down the street and not get on a bus.”
The event ended with a ceremonial initial demolition to a portion of the back wall in the room, with Mayor Fung, Senator Reed, Councilman Stycos and President McGonagle all taking a turn in the “wall-breaking” ceremony.