NORWALK, CT - Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) and Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling visited the Head Start program at the Nathaniel Ely Elementary School this morning to highlight the importance of investing in early childhood education. The Head Start program at Nathaniel Ely provides critical educational, nutritional and health services to more than 270 children in the Norwalk community. Head Start is the nation's primary early childhood development program for low-income children.

“Early childhood education programs are some of the best investments we can make as a nation,” Himes said. “Head Start is critical to helping prepare children for school and their futures. It also ensures that parents aren’t forced to choose between going to work and leaving their children home alone. I applaud the NHA on their work in education and on continuing these much-needed Head Start programs in South Norwalk. I will keep working to protect investments in Head Start and make sure that early childhood health and education remains a priority.”

“I join Congressman Himes in applauding the vital importance of early childhood education in Norwalk,” Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling said. “Our city government worked hard to continue this program through a bumpy road in 2014 and we continue our support of education for our youngest citizens. It was a cooperative effort between City and State officials with the tremendous contributions of Congressman Himes’ office. Seeing these youngsters learning and thriving gives us all hope for this new generation of students.”

“We are so excited to have Congressman Himes come visit our Head Start program,” Norwalk Housing Authority Executive Director Curtis O. Law said. “Today we met some of the children in the program – they are the future leaders of our communities, the future legislators, and maybe even the future President. We appreciate his commitment to Head Start and ask for continued federal support for this critical program.” 

The Head Start program at Nathaniel Ely is supported by a $731,350 federal grant and is overseen by the Norwalk Housing Authority (NHA) in partnership with Norwalk Community College and Stepping Stones Museum for Children. The NHA operates two Head Start programs in Norwalk, as well as an Early Childhood Program and multiple after-school education programs in the area.

Himes has been a strong supporter of the Head Start program and an advocate for early education. Earlier this year, he introduced two bills to expand access to and improve the quality of early education programs. The Total Learning Act provides assistance to community partnerships focused on implementing advanced early education curricula, modeled after the Total Learning program utilized by Action for Community Development in Bridgeport. The Supporting Early Learning Act establishes two competitive grant programs to help states implement or improve early learning systems, particularly for children in low-income areas.