Easter Seals Southern California to launch Early Head Start programs in Solana Beach, Encinitas


Low-income families will soon have more early-childhood education opportunities in North San Diego County.

Easter Seals Southern California recently received a $2.1 million federal grant to operate new Early Head Start child care centers, in partnership with local child care providers.

“We’re looking to partner with child care agencies to expand and enhance the services that are currently being given to infants and toddlers,” said Betty Reckard, vice president of child development centers at Easter Seals Southern California, which serves more than 6,000 children and adults with autism, developmental disabilities or other special needs.

With the grant, Easter Seals Southern California plans to launch Early Head Start programs in the cities of Escondido, Poway, Ramona, Borrego Springs, Encinitas and Solana Beach to offer new services for 168 infants and toddlers. The nonprofit aims to start the programs in the next six months.

“Early Head Start provides a really strong foundation for infants and toddlers,” Reckard said. “Because about 90 percent of a child’s brain develops during the first five years of their life, we’re really promoting both Early Head Start and Head Start together.”

Early Head Start and Head Start provide programs for children from infancy to age 5. Head Start programs serve ages 3 to 5, while Early Head Start serves infants and toddlers, focusing on social and emotional development, gross and fine motor skills, cognitive skills, and language development.

“Optimally, we want children to be enrolled in our Early Head Start program and transition into our Head Start program,” Reckard said. “In both programs, we’re helping children grow and develop so they can be successful later in life.”

Easter Seals Southern California has three San Diego County-based Head Start centers serving 280 preschool children.

The Solana Beach center is at St. Leo Mission. Encinitas has two centers, one off Coast Highway 101 and another at Encinitas Boulevard and Rancho Santa Fe Road. The nonprofit also provides support to more than 600 children and their families in the Inland Empire and Ventura.

Easter Seals Southern California opened all three North County centers in September 2014. The sites offer a variety of services, including early education, health screenings, social and emotional health, nutrition, social services, and services for children with disabilities.

To learn more or apply for the Early Head Start or Head Start programs, call 760-436-4800.

For more about Easter Seals Southern California, visit www.easterseals.com/southerncal.