Center to reopen through Head Start Program

Eastside families to have child care starting in August

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than a 120 underprivileged families on the Eastside will have one less thing to worry about this upcoming school year: quality day care.

Mayor Alvin Brown and other community leaders announced Tuesday that the Don Brewer Early Learning Center will be reopening in August through the Head Start Program.

The opening of the center will take some of the strain off families who are eligible for free child care.

It's all made possible by an $18 million grant from the federal government that, in the end, will give kids more stability in their lives.

"I think something positive will give people hope in this area," parent Joyce Wright said.

She said reopening the center is precisely what the Eastside community needs. Just two days ago, a young man was shot and killed down the street from the center. Wright hopes the services the center offers will have an a overall positive effect.

"In this area alone, the crime rate is very high, and we need a positive entity in this area," Wright said.

"These services are designed to foster stable family relationships, enhance physical and emotional well-being and develop cognitive skills," Mayor Alvin Brown said.

He said Lutheran Services Florida signed a five-year lease to operate with the Children's Commission, opening a federally funded day care facility for the kids who need it the most.

The programs aren't only focusing on the kids 2 months to 6 years old, they'll also encourage parent engagement, while at the same time providing the kids with balanced, nutritious meals.

There's even a program designed to show men how to be better fathers.

"This agreement will ensure that needy children in this community, once again, will be able to come to the Don Brewer Center and benefit through childhood education in the whole process," City Councilman Johnny Gaffney said.

"Every dollar invested in early childhood development for disadvantaged children produces a 7-10 percent return per child per year," said John Hayman, of the Jacksonville Children's Commission. "That's huge."

Enrollment began Tuesday. The services would have cost parents roughly $11,000 a year, but through the public-private partnership and grant, it's free.

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