Head Start/Anti-Substance Abuse Program Falters in New Jersey

Free to Grow: Head Start Partnerships to Promote Substance-Free Communities

Concerned Parents for Head Start in Paterson, N.J., developed Project Unconditional, a project designed to integrate family and community strengthening components into Head Start to reduce risks for substance abuse.

Paterson is a low-income, minority community with high unemployment in northern New Jersey. The target community for the project was a public housing project known to be a major distribution point for illegal drugs.

Key Results:

  • Project Unconditional featured three main components:
    • A parent support module for approximately 30 families.
    • Parent mentors for these families.
    • An advisory committee charged with developing community action projects related to issues of substance abuse.
  • Because of staffing problems, the project did not implement the family and community strengthening components of the model, despite intensive support from the Free to Grow National Program Office.
  • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) declined to grant Concerned Parents for Head Start funding for the three-year implementation phase of the project.

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