Imagine a child with little food, clothes or shoes, living in a one-bedroom home, having to share a bed with three or four people, surrounded by drugs and violence. Many of these children drop out of school and get involved with the gangs — as it’s the only way they see to get out of poverty. But what can people do to help these at-risk children and families?
Veronica Ray, President of NJ Head Start Association, sat down with Steve Adubato, PhD., on Caucus: New Jersey with Steve Adubato, to explain how programs like the Leaguers and Head Start help children and families that live in poverty.
The Leaguers is a private non-profit social agency. It has been around for 69 years, making it the oldest African-American social agency in New Jersey. They help people with setting and achieving their goals. “We’ve had some parents who came to us without a high school diploma who now have masters degrees,” Ray said.
Head Start is a developmental educational program for children up to five years old and, according to Ray, is “touching lives, helping children grow positively, helping families grow positively, helped lead a lot of families out of poverty.” Head Start also provides medical services to children since there are many families that can’t even afford to feed their children. “The only meal they get is coming to our childcare centers,” said Ray. “They now help run these programs.”
Mental health programs are offered as well, under the idea of helping the kids “grow up great,” Ray said. They teach children to express their anger by using words, giving them an outlet so they don’t turn to bullying or other destructive behavior. And they don’t label children — for example, if they have ADD — and help the children work through their disorders instead.
Find out more about the programs there are to help families in poverty in this edition of Caucus: New Jersey with Steve Adubato.
For more stories that impact New Jersey residents, click over to our Hot Topics in NJ series.
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