Governor Lamont Announces Expansion of Head Start On Housing: A State Pilot Program Increasing Access To Permanent Housing for Families With Young Children
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont – along with Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno of the Connecticut Department of Housing and Commissioner Beth Bye of the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood – today announced the expansion of Connecticut’s first-in-the-nation Head Start on Housing pilot program.
Head Start on Housing is a cross-agency collaboration to expedite access to permanent housing subsidies for Head Start households, increase the pool of landlords renting to young families, and enhance the educational performance of homeless and precariously housed children.
Connecticut’s Head Start and Early Head Start programs provide children with high-quality early learning experiences to prepare them for kindergarten and comprehensive services to promote children’s positive development and support family stability. Head Start agencies are required to aggressively seek out and prioritize homeless children for enrollment so that children can thrive in the classroom despite their family’s challenges.
Head Start on Housing is a partnership between the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, Connecticut Department of Housing, Connecticut Head Start State Collaboration Office, Connecticut Head Start Association, and the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare.
With the expansion of this program, Governor Lamont said that Connecticut is moving closer to his goal of being the most family-friendly state in the nation.
“Stable housing is among the most important components of a child’s development and wellbeing, and by expanding this pilot program using federal housing vouchers we will be able to connect more young families to a place they can call home,” Governor Lamont said. “Ensuring families have access to long-term, stable housing is not only possible, but it’s a moral imperative.”
Commissioner Bye and Commissioner Mosquera-Bruno are working together to attack these long-stand housing challenges head-on with state-funded housing resources and the training necessary to get families housed quickly.
“My department is proud to participate in this cross-agency partnership,” Commissioner Mosquera-Bruno said. “We always strive to prevent and end homelessness and this program expansion allows us to take a proactive approach. These federal housing vouchers provide stability and gives a pathway for children and families to get a head start on housing.”
“This innovative model is two-generational, focusing on both the parent and the child, and brings both agencies together to wrap vital services around the whole family,” Commissioner Bye said. “We know that providing safe and stable housing is a foundation for family well-being and brings consistency in the life of a young child, which is so critical to their overall health and development.”
“Never did I think that a daycare program could help with housing,” Head Start parent Meghan Gonzalez said. “The day that Janic, the Head Start supervisor, called to let me know that I was approved for housing was the best day of my life. It took my children awhile to know that this was their home and nobody was going to tell us we had to leave. My kids are so happy now and feel secure in their new home. I know there are many other families out there who need this program. I am willing to help so that other families at Head Start are as lucky as we are now.”
“I recently housed two Head Start families in my properties the Middletown area,” Elliott Morales, a landlord, said. “It is great working with Head Start. And I have worked with the housing voucher program in Connecticut for years. The voucher program is guaranteed rent and makes sense for landlords to participate. When other landlords were suffering during the pandemic my rents were paid and I was able to keep my tenants. I would encourage other landlords to participate in this program.”
“Head Start’s comprehensive model not only provides high-quality early care and education for children but is also responsive to the needs of families and the community,” Mikyle Byrd-Vaughn, director of LULAC Head Start in New Haven, said. “This Head Start on Housing initiative is the first time LULAC Head Start has ever had direct access to housing vouchers for our families. It has significantly changed how we offer support and partner in this area, and we are seeing the tremendous positive impact this is having on the children and families who now have a stable place to call home.”
“People throughout Connecticut can be proud of their leaders for embracing a unique and expedited solution to the affordable housing issues that have acted as a burden on the educational and economic prospects of America’s youngest children and their families,” Ruth White, executive director of the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare, said. “Through groundbreaking partnership, Connecticut is eliminating unnecessary barriers to family success and leading the nation forward towards an end to homelessness.”