Head Start, an early education program of the Community Action Council of Howard County, is moving one of its locations to Columbia’s Long Reach Village Center. The new location has approximately 5,332 square feet, allowing Head Start to increase its capacity from 38 to 80 children. Head Start provides free pre-school to eligible 3 to 5-year-old children.

The Head Start program serves 364 Howard County children with four early education centers, including the new space in the Long Reach Village Center. The program is designed to prepare children socially, emotionally and academically for kindergarten. The center will also serve as a family support center that provides wrap around services that include housing, energy and food assistance while their children are receiving a high quality education that prepares them for kindergarten.

The new location in the village center replaces the First Presbyterian in Columbia, which only has two classrooms and a smaller student capacity. The four centers are accredited by the Maryland State Department of Education, National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Head Start Association and Maryland EXCELS.

“The pandemic has highlighted the dire need for child care resources in our community,” said Lillian Bauder, CAC board member and a significant contributor to the Head Start program, donating $250,000. “We know our children need access to finest resources and that starts with early education and flexibility for working parents. I am pleased to work with County Executive Dr. Calvin Ball and Bita Dayhoff [president of the Community Action Council] to get this project started. I look forward to seeing the great work Community Action Council will continue to do in Howard County.”

During the last 10 months, more than 45,000 square feet of office and retail space has been leased in Long Reach Village Center, including 25,000 square feet of the space that was previously occupied by Safeway. As of October 2020, retail space at the village center is 85% occupied, office space is 51% occupied and the former Safeway is 48% occupied.

In addition to Head Start, new tenants include the African Art Museum of Maryland, Roving Radish, ManneqArt, Power52, Every Kid Can Cook, Roll Up ’n Dye, the new Howard County Arts Council artists’ studios, Howard International Grocer, Blooming Hope Dominican Salon and VM Services.