Project LAUNCH To Expand Services for Manchester Kids

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By SARAH GIBSON

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig and Richard Ober, the President and CEO of N.H. Charitable Foundation, at a meeting of Project LAUNCH.

An effort aimed at supporting Manchester’s most vulnerable kids is set to expand this year thanks to a $175,000 grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health), a collaboration led by the Manchester Community Health Center, announced on Thursday a plan to expand parenting education classes and teacher training.

Project LAUNCH is a federal initiative with chapters throughout the country. It supports programs for kids age 0 to 8, but Manchester coordinator Lara Quiroga says the local chapter wants to focus on kids under the age of 3, because that’s when 90 percent of brain development occurs.

"We want to make sure that children have the healthy brain development that they need to set this strong foundation that’s going to be the base for everything that comes after, in terms of learning and health," she says.

Manchester's Project Launch is entering its sixth year and beginning a strategic planning process for the next five months.

Quiroga says the city is making progress, but it still needs to address a shortage of staff in behavioral health and child care.