HOLLYWOOD — Elected officials cut the ribbon on a brand-new, state-of-the-art early head start center Nov. 30, one of two that will serve 89 low-income families with infants or toddlers.
The early education centers, developed in a close partnership between the Los Angeles County Office of Education and the Youth Policy Institute, are located at 1147 Vine St. (the home of the historic former Vine Street Studios) and 1014 N. Western Ave.
They will provide free, full-day comprehensive child development and family support services. Families qualify based on level of income; a family of two parents and two children would have a maximum annual income of $28,000 to qualify.
“The Youth Policy Institute Early Head Start center focuses on the same important things we focus on at the California Department of Education — enhancing a child’s physical, social-emotional, and intellectual development,” State Superintendent of Public Education Tom Torlakson said. “Together, we can set students up for success — so they come to school ready to learn — curious, inquisitive, stimulated and engaged — ready to discover their inner strengths, ready to dream big and go far.”
The ribbon cutting at the Vine Street location showed off Youth Policy Institute’s commitment to forging connections between low-income communities and neighboring areas of significant economic development.
Lined with exposed brick and bright, colorful features, its interior design gives Hollywood low-income families a welcoming, first-class location for a deeply needed child-care service.
“Every day I ask how our state education system can meet the needs of our people,” said state Sen. Ben Allen, who represents Hollywood and chairs the Senate Education Committee. “Everything starts early. Kids who go through programs like this are more likely to graduate high school and less likely to enter the juvenile justice system. This center will put our little ones on the path towards successful, happy and healthy lives.”
Both centers are located in the Los Angeles Promise Zone, a federal designation for low-income communities where Youth Policy Institute is leading place-based interventions on multiple fronts to ensure success for children and families in education and life.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the Los Angeles County Office of Education a nearly $40 million early head start grant, a process which benefited from the Promise Zone competitive preference.
“Education in every stage of life is incredibly important for growing strong, healthy communities in the 13th District,” City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said. “The early head start program will help shape the minds of young Angelenos in their formative years, and greatly assist families with the very basic human need to learn.”
“Dixon Slingerland and the entire team at Youth Policy Institute understand the need for more innovative early childhood education options to increase student achievement and break the cycle of poverty,” said Los Angeles school board Vice President Nick Melvoin, whose district includes the Hollywood and East Hollywood area. “YPI is investing in collaborative efforts with their community partners to bring more early head start programs to Los Angeles’s youngest learners.”
“Walking in the door of this facility in the heart of Hollywood, children and parents will get a clear message: this community belongs to you,” said Slingerland, president and chief executive officer of the Youth Policy Institute. “In too many cities, economic development puts pressure on low-income families to move away. Ensuring that the heart of Hollywood offers top-notch community services does the opposite.”
Comprehensive services offered at the new locations will include health, nutrition, child development, disability and mental health services to fully support infants and toddlers and their families’ readiness for preschool and kindergarten.
“We need to identify children early to give them the services they need,” said Debra Duardo, superintendent of the Los Angeles County Office of Education. “Early head start helps us reach both the child and the family. This project represents the kind of passion we need to ensure that we’re doing it right.”
Denise Aldana, whose 13-month-son Ethan will attend the Vine Street location, said, “They say it takes a village to raise a child. Right now, my village is YPI.”