PROVIDENCE, RI – Every child is full of potential, and with the right services and supports, they will reach it. 

In an effort to make it easier for at-risk Rhode Island families to locate, access, and enroll in programs and services that give their children the best possible chance to thrive, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today delivered a $1 million federal earmark to help launch Meeting Street’s new Early Childhood Family Resource Center.

The new resource center will be part of the Center for Early Childhood Development (CEDC) opening on Meeting Street’s Providence campus in Summer 2024 and will create a community-based, one-stop-shop resource program for families with children prenatal to age five.

Senator Reed joined Meeting Street President, John M. Kelly and the agency’s Assistant Director of Early Childhood Programs, Nicole Constantino today to visit students in an Early Learning Center classroom and to get a brief tour of the 29,000 square foot CEDC, currently under construction.

Reed noted that the new Family Resource Center could create a helpful national model to demonstrate the efficacy and cost-efficiency of creating an innovative “early childhood concierge” for families that can easily connect them to resources that support the healthy physical, nutritional, and emotional development of their child.

“Meeting Street is an inclusive place that does a terrific job supporting children of all abilities and their families.  They provide a nurturing, engaging environment for children with disabilities and empower families by building partnerships, making connections, and navigating the web of assistance, whether its Head Start, WIC, or some other program.  The skilled professionals at Meeting Street help guide families through what can be a complex system, and ensure no stone is unturned and no door of opportunity is closed.  This is an investment in helping kids, removing barriers and cutting red tape, and ensuring parents can do what is best for their child,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee who helped include this $1 million earmark in the fiscal year 2023 appropriations law. “I’m excited for the upcoming launch of the Early Childhood Family Resource Center.  I think it is going to be a game changer.  I think it will be a model for other states.  And I am proud to help direct federal investments like this to ensure every kid has the support they need and every family has an experienced, effective resource advocate in their corner.”

“We are grateful to Senator Reed for his leadership and advocacy to secure this investment in Rhode Island’s children and families.  His belief in our work and shared vision for the potential of the Family Resource Center is truly an honor,” said Meeting Street’s President, John M. Kelly.   

This federal funding secured by Senator Reed will be used to hire trained family resource coordinators who will be available to all families, providing family wellness and needs assessments and child developmental screenings.

As needs are identified, resource coordinators will connect families to resources within Meeting Street and through its network of community partners with the goal of addressing disparities in access to services, building a partnership with families to create and achieve goals that strengthen the family unit and foster the healthy physical, nutritional, and emotional development of their child.

The Early Childhood Family Resource Center will allow Meeting Street to achieve better outcomes for the most vulnerable families living in Rhode Island. By establishing a relationship of trust and the ability to deliver resources for families, resource coordinators will help to remove a primary barrier to family disengagement in government programs and ensure continuity of services and support.

Founded in 1946 as one of the nation’s first schools for children with special needs, Meeting Street has grown to meet the needs of over 7,000 children (prenatal to age 22) and their families across Rhode Island, providing early childhood development supports and inclusive educational program for children of all abilities, helping them to reach their full potential.

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