Cuyahoga County – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) toured one of Step Forward’s ten Head Start sites, Louis Stokes Head Start Center, Monday.
Ryan and his wife, Andrea, first spoke with Site Administrator Nicole Hawthorne. Hawthorne shared some of the challenges the agency is facing, including a teacher shortage and a long wait list of eligible children.
The couple interacted with Early Head Start students, ages zero to three. Then, the couple read to two Head Start classrooms full of children ages three to five.
Ryan acknowledged the significant impact Head Start programs like Step Forward’s have on young people.
“The brain is developing so rapidly at a young age,” he said. “It’s a tremendous investment for the taxpayer to fund these.”
Ryan talked about wanting to eliminate the wait list. As of September 19th, there were about 1,000 children waiting for a seat at Head Start.
“We need to get these young kids in here if we’re going to be a competitive country. This is where it starts,” Ryan insisted.
Step Forward’s Leadership Team was pleased with the visit.
“We always appreciate the opportunity to host our local, state and federal leaders and show them the important work we’re doing within the community,” Douglas Bennett, the Vice President of External Affairs, said.
Louis Stokes Head Start Center currently serves 26 Early Head Start students and 115 Head Start students.
It is located along 173rd Street.