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  Free To Grow
  Mailman School
  of Public Health
  Columbia University
  722 West 168th Street,
  8th Floor
  New York, NY 10032

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NOTE: as of April 17, 2007, the Free to Grow program has closed.
Grantee Profiles

Palm Beach County Head Start/Early Head Start

Organization Name Palm Beach County Head Start and Early Head Start
State Florida
Program Profile FTG staff at this grantee site work within a 1.5 mile-wide Southwest Delray Beach neighborhood that is 98% minority. Most of the residents are Black, with significant pockets of Haitian and smaller numbers of Hispanic families. Like other South Florida communities that are largely populated by first-generation immigrants, families have a limited social support system. The high levels of stress associated with trying to assimilate into a new culture show up in the community as above average rates of crime, substance abuse, child neglect, and domestic violence.

This Free To Grow Program tailored its structure and activities to reflect the diversity and evolving nature of the community it serves. Family strengthening strategies will focus on helping families with young children build friendship networks. In addition, FTG will link families with existing social support services that they often do not know about or understand how to access. Many of the Head Start staff and FTG governance team members were born and raised in Southwest Delray Beach; they understand the community's weaknesses and strengths and share a sense of pride and ownership about helping with its rejuvenation. FTG has drawn from the community, training residents and then using them to teach leadership development to other parents. In addition, Hispanic and Haitian staff translate materials into Creole and Spanish for non-English speaking families. Head Start parents, as well as parents from FTG partner schools and agencies, serve as peer organizers, building awareness about FTG in the community and encouraging other families to participate.

For more information, contact Carmen Nicholas at (561) 233-1611 or via email at

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copyright 2008 Free To Grow
Free To Grow is a national program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University.