A nonprofit announced this week that it won a $6.1 million federal grant to operate Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Glendale, Altadena and Pasadena over the next five years.
The competitive grant handed down by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will expand Pacific Clinics' effort to assist children and their parents who are living on or below the federal poverty line with health care, nutrition, parenting and mental health services.
"I really believe we're going to empower parents to empower themselves to be all that they can be for their children," said Wassy Tesfa, interim Head Start divisional director with Pacific Clinics.
The nonprofit's Head Start program in Glendale will serve about 430 low-income preschoolers ages three to five.
Pacific Clinics will also help about 170 infants and toddlers from birth to age three in Early Head Start programs across Glendale, Pasadena and Altadena where the nonprofit rents facilities to reach local families.
At least 10% of the group's clientele must be made up of disabled children, but outreach is also conducted for homeless children and military and veteran families.
Joe Ho, a child psychologist who works for Pacific Clinics, said the grant will expand the group's platform to reach children early, to prepare toddlers for kindergarten and to assist clients with mental health needs at an early stage.
Pacific Clinics already provides mental health services for several Head Start programs across Los Angeles County.
"My vision and goal is to reduce mental illness in children," Ho said. "To me, the only way to do this is to reach out to the families to treat the children early."
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) supported Pacific Clinic's application for the federal grant.
"Nearly 30 million preschool-aged children have directly benefited from Head Start," he said in a statement. "And our country as a whole is better off because of this program."
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