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QCAPâ€™s Head Start Opens New Early Learning Center in Quincy
QCAP’s Head Start Opens New Early Learning Center in Quincy
Building dedicated to Rosemary and Archie Wahlberg
Quincy, MA -- Joined by Quincy Mayor Thomas P. Koch, State Senator John F. Keenan, funders, and hundreds of guests, Quincy Community Action Programs, Inc. (QCAP) today officially opened the doors to its new Head Start Early Learning Center. The school, dedicated to longtime Quincy residents Rosemary & Archie Wahlberg, provides affordable and high quality early education and child care to low-income families in Quincy, Weymouth, Braintree, and Milton.
“We are extremely proud to welcome the community to our new Head Start Early Learning Center,” said Beth Ann Strollo, QCAP’s executive director. “This school will provide quality early education and care and support for thousands of children and families in the years to come.”
The school, located at 22 Pray Street in Quincy, is named in honor of QCAP’s former executive director, Rosemary Wahlberg, and her husband Archie. Known as the “First Lady” of community action in Massachusetts, Rosemary and Archie have long championed to improve the quality of life for low-income residents, helping families to take steps toward their own financial independence. Among their many initiatives, the Wahlbergs led successful campaigns to start Quincy’s first school lunch program, extended day child care, family planning, and led a coordinated effort to reduce childhood lead poisoning. At today’s dedication event, citations were read in honor of the Wahlbergs by Michael Jackman, representing U.S. Congressman William Keating, State Senator John F. Keenan, State Representative Tackey Chan, and Quincy City Council President Michael E. McFarland, joined by Ward 2 City Councilor Brad L. Croall.
“Rosemary and Archie have touched countless lives and gave so many people a sense of hope and a chance to move forward in their lives,” Strollo said. “Their legacy is that they helped groom a generation of leaders, inspired to promote the mission of community action.”
Designed by the architecture firm Bargmann Hendrie + Archetype, Inc. of Boston, the state-of-the-art school offers 32,000 square feet of space and has the capacity to serve 240 low-income toddlers and preschoolers, ranging in age from 15 months to 5 years in part-day and full-day programs. The building has 16 classrooms, conference rooms, space for physical, occupational, and mental health therapy for children, and a health examination room in which a dentist provides on-site services, such as cleanings and fillings. Reflective of its Quincy Point shipyard roots, the outdoor playground space is reminiscent of a ship and moorings and uses rubber for its playing surface.
When the weather turns stormy outside, children can remain active in the indoor gross motor room, named in honor of Honorable William Delahunt. Respected for his distinctive ability to unite residents and legislators on critical issues, the vision for the Delahunt Room is a space to host community meetings, conferences, and other events, in addition to its role as a physical activity area. The room also honors the former Congressman’s longtime dedication to low-income residents and to QCAP.
“QCAP is pleased to recognize Honorable Delahunt’s efforts with the dedication of the Delahunt Room where future activities will embrace the spirit of education and early childhood learning,” said Josephine Shea, QCAP’s Board President.
The need for affordable and high quality early education and child care could not be more urgent. From 2000 to 2009, the poverty level has increased in every community that QCAP’s Head Start program serves, with Braintree with an increase of 36.8%, and Quincy with an increase of 24.7%, according to the US Census American Community Survey 2006-2009. With the cost of living escalating and unemployment rates yet to rebound, families continue to struggle, and more children are living in poverty. In Quincy, more than one-fifth – 21% - of children under the age of five is living in poverty.
Meeting this need, QCAP’s Head Start program provides complete wrap-around services for its families, helping them to maintain a healthy and nourishing environment in and out of school. QCAP’s Family Service workers provide tips for parenting and they connect families with additional resources, such as housing, food, and fuel assistance. They also work with parents to help them be the first educators of their children including providing them with literacy activities. As such, QCAP works with families with children younger than 15 months old and with families who are pregnant.
With so many children relying on the QCAP’s Head Start program for morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack every day, a key feature of the school is the new, full-service, commercial kitchen with a walk-in refrigerator and freezer, as well as industrial appliances. QCAP’s nutrition coordinator oversees the menu and ensures that healthy and nutritious foods are incorporated in each of the students’ meals, such as fresh bean salad, avocados, yogurt, hummus, berries, and other fruits and vegetables.
After a 15-year search for a site for its Head Start program, QCAP purchased the former St. Joseph’s Elementary School from the Archdiocese of Boston in 2010. Although QCAP worked to preserve much of the history and charm of the original school, the building required extensive renovations, including hazardous materials abatement, construction of a new floor within the existing gymnasium space, new building entry, an elevator, exterior masonry repairs, exterior windows, interior finishes and specialties, new fire protection and alarm systems, plumbing, HVAC, electrical and security systems, site utility improvements, landscaping, and pavement. In January, QCAP consolidated three of its existing Head Start schools and its program management and staff into the new space.
Funding for the Rosemary & Archie Wahlberg Head Start Early Learning Center generously provided by the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, Office of Head Start; State Street Foundation; City of Quincy; Quincy Dept. of Planning & Community Development; U.S. Dept of Energy; DLA Piper LLP (US); Franklin Square House Foundation; Children’s Investment Fund; and Grace E. Brooks Trust. Low-interest financing provided by Rockland Trust. Paul J. Rogan Co. Inc. served as the general contractor on the project.
“We are grateful to our many partners and funders who came together to make this dream a reality,” Strollo said.
QCAP’s Head Start program – with additional locations in Hull and Weymouth - is accredited by the NAEYC, is recognized as a Center of Excellence, and was selected by Root Cause as one of the Top 10 High Performing School Readiness Organizations in Massachusetts.
For more information about the Rosemary & Archie Wahlberg Head Start Early Learning Center, QCAP’s Head Start Program, or to complete an enrollment application, visit www.qcap.org or contact 617-249-2000.