Through its Department of Human Service Programs (DHSP), Cambridge provides a wide range of programs and services that engage children, youth, and families. Here is a sampling of the many resources that are offered to support families and contribute to positive child and youth development.
The City of Cambridge is committed to ensuring that all of its families have the same level of opportunity to access resources and programs. With support from the Agenda for Children’s Out of School Time Initiative, City and community agencies are deepening their program quality, engaging more with families and connecting them with the services and resources they need.
The innovative and successful 16-week Baby U parenting support program (for parents with children pre-natal to age 3) provides ongoing workshops, playgroups, and home visits. The Center for Families offers Cambridge families with children birth-8 parenting education, support, and a variety of weekly programs. The center has staff that speak 13 different languages.
Seven of Cambridge’s preschools classrooms were among a small number of pre-schools statewide to be awarded the Commonwealth’s highest quality rating by the Department of Early Education and Care. All classrooms are equipped with activity areas where children explore and engage in developmentally appropriate play and activities that build social-emotional competence and other important school readiness skills.
The inclusion of children with disabilities is a priority for the City. We welcome individuals with disabilities who meet the basic eligibility requirements of the out-of-school time programs. Staff receive specialized training in how best to structure their programs to be inclusive in specific methods such as: Positive Behavior Support, De-escalation and Building Inclusive Environments.
Cambridge’s after-school programs are designed to build children’s social/emotional skills and enhance their school-day learning. In Childcare and King Open Extended Day classrooms, children engage in developmentally appropriate project-based learning curriculum, both individually and in groups.
Community Schools provide a network of neighborhood-based services offering educational, cultural, social, and recreational opportunities for all age groups. Staff work with residents and local institutions to provide services and activities that enhance health, learning and creative expression, and also foster a sense of community.
Since its launch in 2016, the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) Initiative has worked with community and City program providers, school leaders, and higher education institutions to strengthen and expand STEAM learning experiences and engage families in neighborhood events that foster STEAM literacy and connect families to programs and opportunities. In the coming year, we will blend the strategic goals of the STEAM Initiative with the powerful vision of the Cambridge Public Library to firmly position City libraries as neighborhood hubs for STEAM literacy and practice.
Cambridge Youth Programs
The youth programs offer diverse, high quality programs that promote leadership and youth development through enrichment activities, unique experiences, and opportunities to develop relationships with adults and peers. These programs enable Cambridge youth to thrive and feel a sense of belonging, resulting in young adults who are ready for future employment, higher education, citizenship, and adult life.
The five Cambridge Youth Centers offer year-round activities for over 1,000 Cambridge youth. The citywide Middle School Activities Club provides unique opportunities for Cambridge youth in grades 6-8 to develop socially in a structured way.
The Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program often serves as a young person’s first job experience and exposure to the world of work. The program serves Cambridge youth ages 14 up to the summer after graduating high school. Teens are placed in public sector and nonprofit jobs throughout the city for six weeks during the summer and work 20 hours a week. Through the Neighborhood Service Project, Cambridge youth ages 14-15 are introduced to the workforce through participation in projects that positively impact their neighborhood.
You can learn more about these programs on the Department of Human Services website.