Acelero Learning Camden-Philadelphia awarded $15.2 million in Early Head Start expansion funds

Acelero Learning Camden-Philadelphia has been awarded $15,151,685 in funding over a five-year period in order to add 176 new Early Head Start students to the program, including 88 slots in a center on Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia. The Acelero Learning Camden-Philadelphia (ALCP) delegate program operates two Head Start only centers, one birth-to-five center, and one Early Head Start Center in Camden, NJ and two Head Start centers in North Philadelphia, bringing world-class early childhood programming to many of the highest need communities in the area.  ALCP staff work daily with low income families, and experience how overwhelming the need is for high-quality infant and toddler care.  In comparison, at least 30% of 3-4 year old children in Philadelphia have access to high quality pre-school options, beyond child care subsidy, but for most Philadelphia families, low-income parents of infants and toddlers only have access to child care subsidy, which does not provide enough funding to ensure services that meet Early Head Start quality standards. Throughout the entire city of Philadelphia, only 695 children were served in Early Head Start in the most recent program year

The shortage of high-quality early childhood services is particularly acute in the 19133 zip code, where the new center will be located. Here 52% of children currently live in poverty, making it one of the highest-need zip codes in the country. In Philadelphia, participating in KeyStone Stars, the state’s quality rating system for childcare centers, is optional so data for parents or other providers is limited. In the city of Philadelphia, there is licensed child care capacity for 68,000 children, but in the 19133 zip code there are zero 4-Star providers (on a four star scale), a total of two 3-Star providers, and one 2-Star provider. These 88 new slots will bring a much-needed provider of quality infant/toddler care to the area.

Local and national leaders agreed on the importance of Acelero Learning’s expansion to serve additional low-income children.  “Acelero Learning exemplifies Head Start and Early Head Start's role as the nation's laboratory for early childhood innovation,” said Yasmina Vinci, National Head Start Association (NHSA) Executive Director. “They are problem solvers, they have generated tremendous child outcome gains, and they recognize the need to expand infant and toddler options for low income children.  I am delighted that they will be serving more children through Early Head Start expansion."

Early Head Start is a vibrant and effective program for infants and toddlers serving more than 147,000 young children across the nation. The program offers comprehensive services to children and families, including early education, family engagement initiatives, health, mental health, nutrition and oral health services. Acelero Learning considers it imperative to meet the growing demand for Early Head Start services and add much-needed supply to the universe of higher quality infant/toddler care in Philadelphia.

The grant will be supplemented with $1,047,751 in one-time start-up funds distributed across Acelero expansion sites in both Philadelphia and Camden. This additional funding will support the purchase of new classroom supplies, infant/toddler playground setup, and costs related to licensing and required background checks for staff. The program is also expected to bring approximately 30 new jobs to the Philadelphia area.

The grant was awarded under the leadership of Victoria Ankrah, Executive Director of the ALCP program. “This grant expansion will be a game changer for the children and families within the city of Camden,” Ms. Ankrah states.  “Families will have the opportunity to leave their infants/toddlers in a high quality early childhood program throughout the day.  In addition, this grant will bring additional workforce and training opportunities to Camden.” Mrs. Ankrah has led the ALCP program as Executive Director since 2007.

Acelero’s newly expanded program offers a powerful set of services to Early Head Start families, including a unique approach to family engagement that extends classroom learning into the home in fun and age-appropriate ways, as well as a content-rich curriculum specifically designed for infants and toddlers. Acelero Learning programs have been nationally recognized for innovation and excellence, and the Philadelphia expansion will allow the program to bring those services to an even wider network of children and families in the area.

For additional information about this expansion and the Acelero Learning program, please contact the Acelero Learning Camden/Philadelphia central office at 215-235-3196 or email Ms. Ankrah directly at vankrah@acelero.net.