Children & Families First opens doors at Seaford Head Start

February 11, 2021

After months of diligent preparations, targeted recruitment and hiring, rigorous training and extensive program development, Children & Families First opened the doors to welcome children for their first day of school at the Seaford Head Start Center Feb. 1.

Having been appointed interim grant manager for Kent and Sussex Head Start programs in July 2020, Children & Families First’s Head Start programs include 13 early childhood learning centers and home visiting services throughout southern Delaware. A robust virtual curriculum, provided in partnership with Shine Early Learning, has been offered since October 2020, with the Seaford Head Start Center being the first to open its physical center under a hybrid model.

“This was a big day for us, for our staff who have worked so hard to make this happen, and for the kiddos and their families who were so excited to begin their in-person learning,” said CFF CEO Kirsten Olson. The mission of Children & Families First is to help children facing adversity on their journey to adulthood. “When the Office of Head Start offered us this opportunity, we jumped at the chance, since these programs are a natural fit for CFF.” Head Start is a federal program that provides early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent engagement supports to at-risk children and families.

Karen Santana, Seaford center operations coordinator, said staff and children were all smiles behind their masks when the program began. “Our opening was a success! These children have been isolated at home for so long; seeing them in a classroom, excited, having fun, learning, it was truly amazing,” said Santana.

CFF Head Start Director Clara Martinez spoke with pride and gratitude to the Office of Head Start Region 3, Shine Early Learning, her staff, the administration and board of CFF, and the enrolled families. “I can’t possibly list the many individuals who came together and worked so hard to make this happen. Monday was the start of great things to come as we implement best practices and expand access to high-quality early childhood learning opportunities,” said Martinez.

In the coming months, CFF will begin in-person learning at additional centers. For more information, go to or call 302-934-1642.

“Our commitment to the prevention, intervention, and healing of childhood adversity is the framework for everything we do,” said Olson. “We know that when children and families thrive, communities grow stronger. That is the legacy of CFF, driving positive change by ensuring our most vulnerable children and families have access to programs and supports to help them overcome challenges, build resilience, and establish self-sufficiency.”

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