By Neyssa Deriphonse
The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey (CHSofNJ), established in 1894, has had a long-standing mission to connect children with loving families, safeguard them from harm and assist parents in enhancing their parenting skills to maintain family unity.
The vision is for every child to experience the security of a nurturing family environment, enjoy good physical and mental health, and thrive cognitively, emotionally and behaviorally.
To fulfill this vision, CHSofNJ’s comprehensive programs encompass behavioral health and mental health services, permanency planning, community and neighborhood-based support, school-based initiatives, as well as early childhood and parent education services.
They offer a spectrum of services, one of which is the Head Start and Early Head Start Programs (HS and EHS). These programs provide free quality and comprehensive early childhood education and services to children between the ages of three to five (Head Start) and zero to three (Early Head Start) at the HS and EHS Center or at their homes in Trenton, New Jersey.
According to a press release published by Insider NJ, the HS and EHS programs offer indoor and outdoor play space, an office for staff and nurse of the program, a community area, conference rooms, a laundry room and a kitchen with commercial appliances to prepare nutritious food for social events designed for “infants, toddlers, preschoolers and pregnant moms” participating in the programs.
Four of the organization’s sites are located in Trenton: 715 Bellevue Avenue, 1198 Southard Street, 794 East State Street and 1746 South Clinton Avenue.
Children in HS and EHS engage in interesting, interactive classes and activities that are intended to reinforce important developmental skills. The six main domains of cognitive, social-emotional, physical, linguistic, literacy and mathematical development are all addressed in CHSofNJ research-based curriculum for young children. Through CHSofNJ’s comprehensive services and individualized support, these six areas collectively establish a robust educational groundwork, equipping children for success not only in preschool but also in their future endeavors.
CHSofNJ collaborates with the Trenton Public Schools Office of Early Childhood to deliver the program. The Trenton Board of Education contributes funds to improve the kids’ educational experiences and strengthens the credentials of teachers by obtaining NJ State certification. Children with an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) or an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) can attend inclusion classrooms.
HS and EHS embody a trauma-informed perspective on children, families and services, which is similar to the rest of CHSofNJ programs. As Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have the potential to significantly impact conduct, overall well-being, developmental growth, cognitive processes and overall life satisfaction, CHSofNJ’s dedicated staff undergoes comprehensive training to proficiently comprehend and provide essential support for children navigating through ACEs. The existence of trauma in the lives of parents, guardians, and other family members is also acknowledged by the team. In order to ensure comfortability and establish a reliable working relationship with families, every interaction is treated with respect and consideration.
“The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey Early Head Start program is proud to provide these important early childhood education services in Trenton, and we are thrilled to now expand our reach to serve families in Hamilton as well,” Isaac Dorsey, the Executive Director of CHSofNJ Head Start/Early Head Start, said in the press release. Since 2021, parents in Hamilton enroll their infants, toddlers, and preschoolers to take advantage of the accelerated learning program, HS and EHS.
“We are truly grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Cities of Trenton and Hamilton in our mission of saving children’s lives and building healthy families,” Dorsey said. “Investing in the education of preschoolers will benefit families, communities, and the world.”