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Apr 11 2019

Press Release: Geminus Head Start Expands Access to Early Childhood Education Services in Gary

GARY, IN – Geminus Head Start opened a new addition at its St. Mark Early Learning Academy in Gary on Thursday. The 8,750 square feet addition nearly doubles the number of families and children in Gary to be served from 80 preschoolers to 144 infants, toddlers and preschool children. Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Geminus Head Start, Regional Health Systems and community members were present to cut the ribbon.

The St. Mark building addition includes two Early Head Start classrooms—serving up to sixteen infants and toddlers; three additional preschool classrooms—serving sixty preschoolers; a community resource room, office space for the site’s staff, and a kitchen, and outdoor learning spaces currently under constructions. The original building houses four preschool classrooms that currently serve eighty preschoolers, office space for case managers and home visitors, and a laundry room.

“As we know research has shown that children can benefit greatly from participation in early education,” said Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. “The expansion of Geminus Head Start provides much needed high-quality, affordable and center-based early childhood education to Gary. The addition of an Early Head Start program in our community offers a sensible option to parents desiring to get a jump start in support their children’s education and growth.”

Nearly a sixth of the Indiana zip codes identified as a high priority zip code by the Health and Human Service Administration’s Office of Head Start are located within the City of Gary. Gary, also a Promise Zone, lacks access to high-quality and affordable, center-based early childhood education and care for infants, toddlers, preschoolers

St. Mark Early Learning Academy, now both a Head Start and Early Head Start center, is the only National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) certified center in Gary providing full-day, full-year quality and affordable early childhood education for infants, toddlers and preschool children in Gary.

“As we take a look at social determinants as a causal phenomenon for health care, education is one of the key determinants of having a healthy productive life. And, we’re pleased that the Geminus Head Start program helps with that,” said Bob Krumwied, CEO of Regional Health Systems, Northwest Indiana’s only network of care providing access to comprehensive mental health, primary care and social services to low-income, underinsured, and uninsured families.

In addition to early childhood education programming, Geminus Head Start also provides health screenings and case management services to children and families—ensuring their mental health and physical health needs are addressed. “The St. Mark expansion increases access to comprehensive school-readiness programming to families not connected to any center-based early learning programs and social services in the area,” said Dr. Karen Carradine, vice president of Geminus Head Start. “These comprehensive services—when combined with high-quality, early childhood education—help prepare our children and families for kindergarten. Here, children are empowered to enter kindergarten ready to learn, and parents are empowered to advocate for their child’s ongoing education.”

Geminus Head Start serves the most at-risk families in Northwest Indiana. Ninety-six percent of Head Start families at-or-below 100 percent poverty receive Head Start’s comprehensive services in Lake and Porter counties. Poverty levels are based on federal guidelines for household size and annual or monthly income.

A $1.8 million expansion grant from the Health & Human Services Administration to Geminus Head Start allowed for the addition to the original St. Mark’s school structure.

Geminus Head Start, the second-largest Head Start grantee and the largest Early Head Start grantee in the State of Indiana, is an early childhood education program that partners with Regional Health Systems. As Northwest Indiana’s leader in early childhood education, Geminus Head Start utilizes a two-generational approach to providing comprehensive services to children and their families that improves the quality of learning for children birth to five. The program currently serves 1,564 children and families in Lake and Porter counties.