Forging the way for families in Austin, TX since the 1960’s, Child Inc is making a real impact for families in our community. Child Inc’s Project Head Start was one of the first initiatives to be funded through President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. This was an important moment for funding in the nonprofit world and helped spotlight the need to break the cycle of poverty for families across the United States.
In 1972 Child IncInc was officially established as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, and has been the Head Start grantee for Travis County since then. They enhanced our strategic community focus on making quality early childhood education accessible for more low-income families. The Child Inc mission is to provide high-quality education and comprehensive support services for children and their families while promoting personal and social responsibility in the communities [they] serve.
Living and breathing their mission for decades, Child Inc has proudly prepared approximately 40,000 preschool children and their parents to succeed in school and in life. They are currently employing a diverse workforce of more than 230 staff positioned throughout their offices, in more than 80 classrooms, serving more than 2,000 children and families. Their work follows established evidenced-based approaches to serving families in the most need.
According to their website two-thirds of [the families served] in [their] center-based program has single, female head-of-households, and at least 90 percent of them live at or below the federal poverty threshold. To better serve these families, Child Inc has responded by developing several initiatives focused on Responsible Parenting. These initiatives include:
- Increasing parent involvement in the early childhood setting and at home
- Educating and engage fathers in the lives of their young childrenAssessing and address family issues that may affect parent-child relationships
- Increasing community understanding and recognition of responsible parenting
Child Inc programs aim to provide low-income families with comprehensive early childhood education, including mental health services, disabilities services, nutritional services, medical and dental services, social services and parent engagement activities.
—Child Inc staff
The team at Child Inc remains focused on providing engaging and positive learning experiences, school readiness and successfully transitioning from Head Start into kindergarten. They achieve school readiness by “utilizing their comprehensive, balanced curriculum in which a child is actively involved in his or her own learning. Intellectual, physical, social and emotional development are given priority in the [programs at Child Inc].”
Staying strategically focused also keeps Child Inc moving forward. One focus is on forming strong partnerships in the community, such as the ones they have formed with Brighter Bites and OLE Texas.
“Through Brighter Bites [Child Inc] families are able to receive fresh fruits and vegetables. In fact, several Child Inc staff volunteer their time after work to sort and package fresh food for our families. “
Reducing childhood obesity and creating lifelong healthy habits is a top priority for Child Inc, so they endeavor to teach families about a different kind of fast food that is available through these fresh foods.
“Each child enrolled in [Child Inc programs] is screened, [and] nutritional needs are identified and special needs are accommodated. Center menus are 90 percent made from scratch, culturally diverse and include whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables.”
Another ongoing priority has been to “transition the existing playgrounds [at Child IncInc] into natural learning and play environment. The goal is to pilot two natural outdoor learning play area in the Spring of 2019. Child Inc has been working closely with the team at OLE to design and build areas that will nurture creative play with elements that are part of nature or are made from natural materials, such as trees, shrubs, grass, logs, stones, sand, water, wooden tree houses, and wood chip trails. Natural playgrounds help children to develop other beneficial behaviors in addition to physical skills. These behaviors include social skills, cooperation, and the ability to solve problems. In addition, natural playgrounds stimulate a child’s imagination and creativity more than a traditional playground.”
All of Child Inc’s hard work does not go unnoticed. The families that participate in their programs are happy, healthy and grateful. One former family has said they “want to thank the entire Child Inc staff for all [they] have done for [their family]. [The family] feels so confident about [their child] going on to Kindergarten. The teachers and staff members at Grant are nice, caring, helpful and well qualified to help and prepare children for the future.” They said they’ll “recommend Child Inc/Grant to all friends, family members, and other parents who are preparing for their child/children to attend Head Start.”
Check out this documentary film available on YouTube.
Story By: Morgan Messick,
Mission Advancement Communications & Grants Manager