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Health Cabinet Announces New Partnerships to Support Young Children and Families - Preschool Development Grants Awarded to Health Equity Zones Across Rhode Island

WOONSOCKET, R.I. The Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced on July 25, 2019 new partnerships to support local families and children through Preschool Development Grants. The agencies awarded the grants totaling about $360,000 to several Health Equity Zones (HEZs) throughout the state to deliver services and supports to families of young children. In partnership with local organizations, the Central Providence, Washington County, West Warwick, Woonsocket, and Pawtucket Central Falls HEZs will implement or expand programs that support family involvement and engagement in children's development and education and transition into elementary school.

"Family members are the first – and often most important – educators in a child's early life. Yet vulnerable families face significant economic, socioemotional, and other barriers to fulfilling that role," said new Health and Human Services Secretary and Children's Cabinet Co-Chair Womazetta Jones. "The Preschool Development Grants will increase the accessibility, choice, affordability, and intensity of programs that are available in these communities."

The participating HEZs will use the funds to enhance the knowledge, ability, skills, assets, and resilience of local families to raise healthy children who are ready and able to succeed in school.

"Research shows that factors outside the doctor's office drive up to 80 percent of our health outcomes," said RIDOH Deputy Director Ana Novais. "Health Equity Zones are about bringing the right partners to the table to support communities to define and achieve their goals. We're thrilled to work with our sister state agencies to expand this important work."

"I am once again impressed by the results of collaboration across the state of Rhode Island, especially when it comes to supporting our families," said Angélica Infante-Green, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. "The funding distributed through the preschool development grant will make a valuable and lasting difference in preparing children for success throughout their time in school and beyond -- nothing could be more important."

"As we build our birth-to-5 system, it is critical to have parents as our partners in this work, both for their input and because they are their child's first teacher," said Courtney E. Hawkins, director of the state Department of Human Services. "These HEZ programs will help us achieve this valuable partnership."

The initial contract period will continue for 11 months and may be extended if the state is awarded an extension for the federal grant funding.

The funding awards were announced at Connecting for Children and Families, a member of the Woonsocket Health Equity Zone Collaborative and one of the funded grant partners. The gathering took place prior to the first meeting of Governor Raimondo's Children's Cabinet with both new co-chairs, Secretary Jones and Commissioner Infante-Green.

Read more about the HEZ grants in our What's New section on our DHS website.

To learn more about the Preschool Development Grant , visit the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) Preschool Development Grant link below.

To learn more about RIDOH's Health Equity Zones, visit RI Department of Health link below.

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