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Opening Doors for Children & Families

Our History

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ABC Head Start has been a vibrant part of Edmonton communities for over 30 years.

ABC Head Start began in response to public health nurses identifying a significant number of children whose social and academic development was delayed as a result of having limited financial and other resources. The projects originated in an effort to both remedy gaps in the children's learning experiences and in the parents' parenting skills.

Since that time ABC Head Start has grown from a single location serving 10 children and families to a comprehensive early learning, family support and community program working with over 430 families in 24 classes, at 6 different locations throughout the city of Edmonton.

The timeline below is a brief chronology of our work.

September 2013 in addressing one of our strategic priorities to reduce wait lists for the program, the agency expands by 82 children across the City of Edmonton to serve a total of 468 children and families.

2008 sees an expansion of 32 children and families in Millwoods bringing to 368 the total number of children and families being served by our agency.

2007 Expansion happens yet again. We are now working with 336 children and families across 12 sites in Edmonton with 21 classes being offered 4 days out of 5.

2005 Kathy Lenihan is hired as Executive Director. With the addition of a new Francophone Head Start program at Gabrielle-Roy we are now serving 304 children and families across 12 sites with 19 classes.

2003 Classes revert back to 4 half days per week, maintaining the same instructional hours per week.

2002 With the opening of the Sherwood site, we now have 11 sites with 18 classes, serving 288 children and families. We add an intake worker from additional funding through the Early Childhood Development Initiative.

2001 We significantly increase class hours from 4 to 5 half day classes per week.

1999 We now have 10 sites, with 17 classes, serving 272 children and families. We revise the wage scale, and reduce staff turnover.

1998 Michelle Craig is hired as Executive Director. We strengthen our operational business and planning processes to support the past and future growth. We also add one class in Millwoods.

1996 We have 10 sites with 15 classes. We also hire 10 special needs assistants, making a total of 50 staff. We work on becoming a planning partner in the development of Early Head Start.

1993 We have five sites, with 27 staff. We continue to develop more formal partnerships with the Glenrose (for psycho/educational assessments), Public Health, Child and Adolescent Services Agency (pediatric mental health), and Edmonton Public Libraries through the mid-nineties. Aleda Patterson initiates the Scarecrow Festival, our largest fundraising event.

1991 We become a society, and hire an Executive Director, Deborah Breakenridge. We now have a staff of 14: teachers, assistants, speech language pathologist, social workers, volunteer coordinator and a part time receptionist.

1987 We open a second site in the northwest and the first Education Assistants are hired.

1986 Our program now has 30 families with children who attend class two to four times per week. We employ a part time speech language pathologist, a part time teacher, and paid Home Educators whose program has become more classroom based and more connected with classes.

Jan 1985 Initiated as project ABC (Accessing for Better Care), classes are held two half days a week for 10 children aged 3½ to 5½ years. The Minerva foundation provides funding for the family support portion of the program. Aleda Patterson manages and develops the program.

Every dollar matters. By supporting ABC Head Start you will give children the skills they need to be successful in their educational journey and support families to transition out of poverty, become healthy and self-reliant. Donate to ABC Head Start today and start making a difference in the lives of children, families and our communities.

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