On Tuesday we heard from Christi McTaggart who is a manager of stake holder development at ABC Headstart in Edmonton. Christi said that they offer the largest early pre school early development program in Edmonton. The currently operate out of five different sites and sixteen classrooms located in Delwood, Mill Woods, Afton, Westmount and Newton. They offer both half day and full day programs for children with many different kinds of problems that cause language and learning delays. They currently work with about five hundred children per year. Eighty five percent of their children come from low income families, representing sixty four different countries and speak forty six different languages. She said that ABC Headstart began in the 1960’s in the United States and came to Edmonton in the 1980’s. They employ teams of professionals to work with the children and their families. Their program considers the parent or guardian as part of their team and offers workshops for the families of the children.  They also try to support the families within their own communities.
Their headquarters is located in the Gerry Forbes Center, which is home to many other non-profit organizations and has common warehouse facilities which they can use. They are a registered charity and have a budget of about eight million dollars per year. They employ ten people in their offices and about one hundred professionals such as teachers, early childhood assistants, social workers, speech specialists etc. In normal times they also have many volunteers that help with various aspects of their program. Their program is very similar to that offered by the Edmonton Public and Catholic School systems, both of which have been shut down due to COVID. This means that demand for their services is now higher than ever. Some of their programs have very long wait lists.
One of their current campaigns is the Pre School Toolbox Campaign which creates packages of supplies such as books, paper, crayons, glue sticks, markers, tape and other supplies for the children to use either at school or at home in these COVID times. Christi said that monetary donations allow them to buy these items in bulk. They are also in need of volunteers to assemble and deliver these items to the various locations around the city. We would like to thank Christi for her presentation and look forward to possibly supporting their group in the future.