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Head Start and Child Care Centers: Serving Families Together It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power. Alan Cohen It’s a fact; the need for high quality full-day care continues to grow. More parents are working today than ever before. Programs that were designed to include a half-day preschool experience, like Head Start, are finding they must make changes to meet the needs of the families with which they work. The reality is that the Federal Government has told Head Start there is no money expected to come down to expand the hours of Head Start itself. Region V has encouraged Head Start grantees to explore the creation of partnerships between Head Start and early education and care centers (child care centers) already in the community that typically serve families for up to 11.5 hours per day, Monday-Friday throughout the year. How would those partnerships work? How could they be designed to benefit everyone involved? In order to find the answers Head Start (both WCHS and TGC HS), the Southeast Michigan Community Alliance (SEMCA) and Detroit/Wayne Co. 4C asked The Skillman Foundation of Detroit to give them funding to develop a model of services for out-Wayne County. The Early Childhood Partnership Initiative was funded in July of 2004 to design a high quality, sustainable model for partnerships. The result-a pilot involving 4 child care centers and 68 families will be in operation with the start of this school year. In order to help you understand and support this new way of serving our families, this document has been put together. WCHS Director, Cecelia Mobley has described the process as riding the bicycle while still designing pieces of it. We don’t have all of the answers yet but we’ll try to answer what so far are the most frequently asked questions. 1. Who are the grant partners and what does each of the partners bring to the table? Head Start Administration (grantee and delegate) - Head Start resources and expertise in providing comprehensive services to young children and their families SEMCA-expertise, resources and contracts to assist Work First parents to succeed at work and to receive additional training. SEMCA serves as the coordinating agency and fiduciary for the grant. 4C of Detroit/Wayne Co.-a referral system for parents looking for quality education and care and training expertise for providers, along with resources to assist in emergency child care situations. Upon receiving the grant from The Skillman Foundation, the partners made several decisions. First, one of the partners would need to provide the director for the initiative in order to have someone who understood the goals and knew what both Head Start and community-based child care would need to make the partnership work. The Guidance Center offered to “loan” Pat Sargent, its Director of Early Education and Care Services, to SEMCA for a year to lead the effort. The partners recognized that they would need to add child care voices to the group and would need to work at several levels simultaneously to do the primary work of the grant. To do that they formed two primary working groups. The Steering Committee would explore the partnership possibilities, make policy regarding how partnerships would take place in out-Wayne Co., choose the partners and monitor the implementation of the pilot year. Members Representing Lisa Betzler TECPI Project Staff Anne Bruetsch Wayne Co. Head Start Karen Grima Detroit/Wayne Co. 4C Annabel Jaurez TGC Policy Committee, WCHS Policy Council Christina Norgren TGC Head Start Fiscal Cecelia Mobley WCHS Director Angela Pilarski TGC Head Start Director Carole Quarterman Detroit/Wayne Co. 4C Katrina Ramocan Folkes WCHS Fiscal Pat Sargent TECPI Project Director Mary Jo Stachulski St. Alfred Parish Child Care Center Chris Smith SEMCA Sally Stinson TGC, Joining Forces for Children Barb Trippe TGC, Joining Forces for Children Katrina Washington WCHS Fiscal The Implementation Team would work out the day-to-day procedures for how the work would get done. Members Representing Lisa Betzler TECPI Project Staff Lakia Jones Detroit/Wayne Co. 4C Regina McKinney TGC Let’s Talk Gwynne Nutter Teddy Bear Day Care Mylon Reynolds Wayne Co. Head Start Pat Sargent TECPI Project Director Adrienne Sewell TGC HS What do you mean by “creating a model” for partnerships? We don’t just want to create a few new partnerships. We want to know what is necessary to create long term partnerships. In doing research for the model, staff of the initiative found three main things necessary for successful partnerships: Clearly defined benefits of partnership, specifically in the areas of finances, services to partner centers, and training. Clearly defined expectations for both Head Start and the child care partner spelled out in a service agreement or contract Dedicated staff support to the centers to help them offer Head Start services without being overwhelmed by new responsibilities. In other words, we are figuring out how to make sure that everyone involved feels like they get something valuable out of the partnership that makes the services they offer stronger than what they could do working alone. What does the grant pay for? The grant pays for dedicated staff time. Instead of an already very busy Head Start staff trying to do all of this work on top of many other things, the grant allows staff time dedicated to making this happen. The two grant staff members are working with the committees to do research, set policy, determine procedures to assure all Head Start Performance Standards are maintained, and recruit providers. The grant will also pay for some materials, equipment and training the providers may need as they come into the partnerships. What are the objectives of the partnerships? Respond to the changing needs of parents Provide consistent, high quality early education and care for children Maximize funding and cost effectiveness Link early care and education systems in the community (Child Care Centers, Head Start, Child Care Homes) What are the benefits of partnering to all involved? The Steering Committee started by defining the results they wanted to see achieved. Children… receive full-day, high quality education and care in one setting, have consistency and security in being in one classroom, allowing them to build relationships with their primary caregivers and their classmates. experience active learning in dynamic, developmentally appropriate environments that blend the best of the child care and Head Start worlds. Parents… are less stressed, more focused workers because their children receive high quality early education and care in one setting. understand their role as first and most important teachers of their children and are active in the life of the center as many possibilities for parental involvement exist that respect their schedules. are better consumers because they know the indicators of quality education and care. Community-Based Providers… have classrooms filled with diverse groups of children. have greater resources to invest in the center to train and stabilize staff and enhance the curriculum and environment. are able to offer more services to the entire center and additional supports to families. Head Start… uses its resources and capacity flexibly to be responsive to the needs of its families. is fully enrolled with children in classrooms and settings spread throughout its service area. is an active participant in the early childhood professional community. The Partners… have a deeper knowledge of and respect for the variety of settings in which quality early education can be provided. have developed a respect and trust for each other, which encourages them to look for additional ways to serve families together. have a model that is of high quality and replicable within Wayne Co. and beyond. In addition… The Community has a larger number of high quality early education and care slots for children 0-5 years of age. Employers have a workforce that is more stable with less absenteeism and staff turnover due to the availability of quality education and care for employees. What do Head Start and Community-based care each bring to the partnerships? Community-based care facilities licenses expertise in planning and running full-day, full-year programs staffing patterns to provide up to 11.5 hour days capacity for sibling care Head Start programs comprehensive services parent involvement expertise experience in bringing community services and donations to the program resources for training staff resources for equipping classrooms How do community-based child care providers retain the identity they’ve built for their programs once they begin to provide Head Start services? The center does not become a Head Start center or in any way change its identity. They may add recognition of the additional services they offer by adding to advertising, tag lines etc. ABC Child Development Center A Guidance Center Head Start Partner Families will mainly identify themselves as enrolled in the child care center and secondarily as receiving comprehensive Head Start services. How were the partners chosen? They all chose to go through a process to assess the readiness of the center to partner using the nationally known Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS). Using the ECERS, the centers were scored in the areas of Interactions, Language-Reasoning, Personal Care Routines, Space and Furnishings, Activities, Parents and Staff, and Program Structure. The staff performing the ECERS also answered questions about the center’s willingness to take on new efforts, be open to change etc. All centers who wanted to be considered for partnership had either completed or agreed to complete Let’s Talk training through TGC to build their capacity to support children’s growing language skills and social-emotional competency. Who is eligible to be in the program? Eligible families meet the TGC Head Start enrollment criteria and full-day criteria as approved by Policy Committee for 2005-06 as well as the grantee criteria. Do parents have to pay for care? Yes, there are fees for this new service. Within Head Start sites, families have several options. The majority of slots are funded to provide no-cost half-day/school year services. Very limited slots in select areas exist offering home-based services and “full-day” services. Head Start full-day services are 6.5 hours per day in all but one site. This is truly a partnership between the center, the parents/DHS and Head Start to create the services that meet family needs. As is true in all partnerships, all partners are expected to put something into the partnership and all get something out of it. In the new model, families enroll in a partner site. Each site charges a fee for the full-time care and education they are providing to the child. Most eligible families will qualify for child care subsidy from the Mich. Dept of Human Services paid directly to the center, but that subsidy may not pay the entire cost of attendance in the center. Families may be charged a “co-pay", a portion of the total cost. In this way, families and DHS contribute to the partnership. It is only through the contribution of all involved that the partnerships with many more hours of service can exist. Through its own staff and a Child Care Partnership Mentor (CCP Mentor) from the TECPI grant, Head Start brings in comprehensive services for the Head Start eligible families, parent involvement activities, additional training opportunities for the staff. Through a quality enhancement stipend from Head Start paid to the centers for the additional paperwork, consultation time etc, funds for new learning materials and supplies for the center’s operation are available. Do all families pay the same thing? No, these are independent centers, which set their fees based on factors that vary from center to center. They may be corporately owned, individually owned, have different building costs etc. DHS payments though are based on family size and income. Each center has the right to charge a co-pay up to the amount that is the center’s regular fee minus the DHS payment. Centers handle that individually with some capping their co-pay at less than allowed to assist families and some not charging the co-pay at all. What should Head Start staff know about partner fees? They should know that when Head Start cannot directly meet a family’s needs for full-day care our partners are there as a new option to fill the gap. They should tell the families that there are fees involved and that the parent should check with the center and then the local DHS office to see if the family qualifies for the subsidy, even if they have no other DHS funding. They should tell the family there may be a co-pay involved and the parent will have to check with the partner center closest to them to see what that will be. They should also tell the parent that if a Head Start site meets their needs and has an opening, it is the free option for the family, but that if they qualify for full-day care that Head Start can’t offer, the partnerships are the best way to get quality education and full-time care with additional Head Start comprehensive services at a lowered cost. Are there ways in which the children who are not eligible also benefit from being in a partner center? That’s the great thing about this partnership. It’s a win for all involved! The entire center will benefit from involvement in the program. Benefits include: additional training for the staff to keep increasing their knowledge of child development and activities that will help all children be ready to succeed in school. a research-based curriculum. additional books and learning materials and other resources added to the centers by the TECPI grant based on how the center scored in the different areas of the ECERS. a “quality enhancement stipend” received by the center from Head Start for the additional work they are doing. The Director will decide how to use the stipend to enhance the overall center. Who will help the centers incorporate Head Start into the way they serve families? Part of creating the model is figuring out what support the centers need and how best to provide it. The grant provides a staff person to mentor the sites to do just that. The mentor has been meeting with the centers since the fall. She was part of the team using the ECERS to assess readiness to partner. She makes at least one visit per week, building a relationship with the center staff, helping them to recruit and enroll families, monitoring their records, training staff in the use of the curriculum pieces, making referrals to Head Start specialists etc. She serves in a combined capacity as FSW/mentor/monitor. Will centers use the High/Scope curriculum? The centers will use the Creative Curriculum, which is used by many Head Start grantees across the country, or another research-based curriculum. Creative Curriculum has a tool (like the COR) that tracks and reports on the children’s progress. The grantee has worked to make sure that results will be able to be reported along with the Head Start site COR results. Alternate curriculum can only be used if it works with the Creative Curriculum Developmental Assessment Tool Kit. Will the centers use Genesis? Yes, the CCP Mentor will, in many ways serve as the FSW for the partnership families. She will be using Genesis in the same way FSWs do until the site staff can be trained to use it. How will the partnership sites take part in shared governance? The partnership sites will be treated as one whole site this first year in terms of representation on Policy Committee. There will be one representative and one alternate to Policy Committee. Each partnership classroom will have a parent board with all of the usual information. Some parents at the sites are already asking about parent activities and the plan for the first year is to introduce them in quarterly evening family activities. These will be planned in conjunction with the center and the TGC Family Resource Centers to expand this experience beyond the “Head Start” families. Will the partner sites and the Head Start sites ever get together to do anything? One of the nicest things so far is that there is interest from both types of sites in several places to explore that idea. Has this changed anything about how TGC looks at providing Head Start services? Some times change, though uncomfortable at first, opens up people’s thinking. TGC has always looked at how to best meet family needs and had been striving to find a way to expand opportunities to provide the hours of services families require. This effort will continue to evolve to perfect and expand the model to meet the needs of families. Additionally, in looking at why we do what we do the way we do it, we all shifted our thinking away from “that’s what the performance standards say” to an emphasis on providing services in ways that are simply the “best practices” ways to serve children and families. When we approach services in this way it is clear that all of those involved, Head Start and its partners can work together to know and do what’s best for children and in doing so meet the standards of Head Start, NAEYC, and the State of Michigan etc. Who should I ask if other questions come up? Ask your Site Leader and if she doesn’t have the answer, she can contact Pat Sargent at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your questions are important because we can’t always think of everything that will happen at the beginning of a new venture, but we can work together to create answers.
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