Jefferson Parish has received $34.5 million in federal grant money to help educate infants and toddlers from low-income families, officials said Thursday.

Some of that money will be used over the next five years to finance an existing Head Start program, the federally financed initiative that provides education, health and nutrition services for low-income children ages 3 to 5.

The rest will be used to pay for a similar program serving even younger children and pregnant women of similar income levels. It will be the first initiative of its kind in the parish. The funds come from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The combined programs will serve more than 560 children between 3 and 5, more than 100 infants and toddlers and 28 pregnant mothers annually, officials said. The programs are expected to employ nearly 200 people.

The federal Head Start and Early Head Start programs are separate from the state’s Child Care Assistance Program, which subsidizes some of the cost for preschoolers to attend day care.

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