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HumanKind Opens Early Head Start to Care for Local Children and Families

written by Alyssa Wilson, University of Lynchburg Bonner Intern 

HumanKind has been serving the community of Lynchburg for nearly 120 years. During this time they have assisted community members with everything from mental healthcare to transportation and beyond. 

HumanKind has connected community members to many other local nonprofits in the community. Partners such as Miriam’s House for housing insecurity and ParkView Community Mission for food insecurity. The local community serves its members in many capacities but one of the places where people noticed a lack was in the early childhood care sector. 

Over the past two years, as COVID-19 has ebbed and flowed, social worker and Director of Family and Children’s Services, Ashley Graham saw a new potential in the community. From this, Early Head Start was born. 

Early Head Start’s opening and ribbon cutting ceremony occurred on Friday, May 13th, although the children will not be entering the facility until the end of May. 

At the start of the ceremony Graham says, “We could help them in connecting them to resources and access to healthcare, education, employment, housing, transportation but the one thing that we continued to struggle with was childcare. Not just any childcare but affordable, high-quality early childhood care and education.” 

Lynchburg Community Action Group has a program called Head Start that cares for three to five year olds. Early Head Start will care for zero to three-year-olds and will help the children to grow through education and care. Graham says, “This [age difference in childhood care] is critical for two reasons. Number one: 80% of brain development happens before age three, so this is a significant point in a child’s life.” 

The City of Lynchburg is what is known as an infant and toddler childcare desert. This means that there are more infants and toddlers than there are childcare services. Over the past couple years, the community has seen how important it is to have early childhood care. 

When there is a childcare desert, parents have to stay home to care for their children. Since the pandemic the community has realized that with parents staying to care for their children, the local economy takes a hit as well. 

HumanKind is changing this through starting the Early Head Start program so that parents can get back to work, and their children can learn. 

Learn more about HumanKind and the Early Head Start program by visiting their profile on SHARE Greater Lynchburg

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