Monterey County Office of Education and Hartnell College leaders, along with board members and Head Start parents, place shovels into the dirt at the future site of a new Early Learning Program center on Feb. 8. (Contributed)

MONTEREY COUNTY — Monterey County Office of Education (MCOE) recently hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to launch the building of a new Early Learning Program (ELP) center. 

The facility, to be named the MCOE ELP Hartnell STEAM Academy, will be built on Hartnell College’s East Campus, located at 1752 E. Alisal St. in Salinas.

With a focus on the use of science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM) to guide student inquiry, dialogue and critical thinking, the Academy will provide families with high-quality care and education for their children ages 2 to 5 years old.

“The new center location was strategically planned so that Hartnell College student adult learners with children will have the opportunity to attend school and further their education while their children are enrolled at the center,” said Monterey County Superintendent of Schools Deneen Guss. “We have a great partnership with Hartnell College, and we are honored and excited to be able to assist their students and the surrounding community.”

According to Guss, children who have the opportunity to attend high-quality early care and education “enter the K-12 education system with a strong foundation and are better prepared to succeed in school.”

The new ELP center will consist of three Head Start classrooms and a State Inclusion classroom. The center will offer services to approximately 80 children and will employ 12 staff members. 

Construction will begin this year, with an expected completion date of June 2024.

MCOE ELP Hartnell STEAM Academy is made possible by a Federal Head Start Grant intended to expand services.

“Monterey County students deserve a strong educational foundation upon which they can then build success in academics and throughout their lives,” said Congressman Jimmy Panetta. “I was proud to push for the necessary federal funding that Monterey County needs to expand comprehensive early childhood development and school readiness services through Head Start. I’m glad we were able to appropriately allocate the funds, and I look forward to the opening of this new facility for students, families and their future in our community.” 

Striving to be a leader in child and family development, MCOE’s Early Learning Program, funded by Head Start and California State Preschool Program, offers part-day and extended day care options with services that help prepare children intellectually, socially, emotionally and physically for success in school and in life.  

The program currently serves more than 700 children at 16 sites, and offers a variety of services, including child development education, referral to mental health services, and access to nutrition information, assessment and health services.  

Early Learning Program Head Start services are available at no cost to income eligible families in Monterey County, including families participating in CalWORKS, working full-time, attending school or enrolled in job training.

MCOE and Hartnell College leaders, along with board members and Head Start parents donned hardhats and placed shovels into the dirt following the Feb. 8 groundbreaking ceremony.

“It has been a dream of mine to actually put a shovel in the ground and start this project off, and to watch it evolve from conception to completion,” said ELP Senior Director Sonia Jaramillo. “This project will make a tremendous impact for our young students and families.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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