- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

DETROIT (AP) - A southwest Detroit nonprofit agency is making about 240 early childhood seats available in some Detroit Public Schools.

The district says Southwest Solutions is using federal and Great Start Readiness funds to help add early childhood classes in 14 classrooms in four schools.

Detroit Schools Superintendent for Academics Karen Ridgeway says the program will build upon the district’s existing early childhood offerings.

Another 515 early childhood spots are opening, including in Southwest Solutions’ Head Start Program for 3- and 4-year-olds living on Detroit’s southwest side and in Early Head Start programs. That program provides free comprehensive child development services and parental support.

The new Head Start and Early Head Start slots are part of Southwest Solutions federally-funded Birth to Five. The initiative serves low-income families in certain Detroit neighborhoods and aims to improve the health and readiness-to-learn of children before they enter preschool and kindergarten.

Offerings include assistance with English and Spanish, medical and dental referrals, nutrition classes, and regularly scheduled home visits by early childhood educators.

Southwest Solutions Early Childhood and School Based Services Director Donna Cielma says that “by addressing the needs of the whole family” the program “is a promising approach to help break the cycle of generational poverty.”

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