Head Start Birth-to-Five pilot shows strong push for earlier care and education

Fifteen organizations in five communities – Baltimore, Detroit, Jersey City, N.J., and Sunflower County, Miss., and Washington D.C. – have entered negotiations to receive federal funding as part of a new Birth-to-Five pilot for Head Start and Early Head Start services.

Originally announced last year, the pilot aims to give communities greater flexibility in designing Head Start and Early Head Start programs to better serve the needs of young children and communities from birth until they enter pre-k or kindergarten.

“The response to this Birth-to-Five pilot points to increased need for high-quality infant and toddler care through Early Head Start,” said Linda Smith, deputy assistant secretary and interdepartmental liaison for early childhood development for children and families. “This reinforces the administration’s early childhood plan to expand the home visiting program, increase access to infant and toddler care, and make pre-kindergarten available for all.”

Through the Birth-to-Five funding opportunity announcement, HHS’ Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Head Start (OHS) encouraged applicants to design a single, comprehensive proposal based on demonstrated community needs and their organizational capacity. In the past, an organization had to submit separate applications to fund services for Head Start (preschool-aged children) and Early Head Start (pregnant women, infants, and toddlers). With the new approach, each agency submitted a single application to provide a continuum of care in a birth to five Head Start program, including services for expectant families.

The five communities were specifically chosen to represent a wide variety of geographic and demographic challenges and opportunities. OHS had designated the grantees in these areas to compete for funding due to deficiencies found during prior monitoring reviews.

OHS has continued to raise its expectations for classroom quality and program integrity to ensure a high quality Head Start experience for children and families. In addition to improving the application process, grantees who aren’t meeting certain thresholds must compete with other potential early childhood education providers for continued funding. OHS has also initiated a large scale improvement of the grantee training and technical assistance system.

“Each community involved in this pilot responded favorably to the streamlined application process. We saw an increase in competition and significant growth in the proposed number of children served by Early Head Start, allowing them to start at a younger age,” said Ann Linehan, acting director of the Office of Head Start.

The preliminary grantees and proposed funding for each community appears below.

Baltimore - $29 million

  • Associated Catholic Charities
  • Maryland Family Network
  • Mayor and City Council of Baltimore City
  • St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore, Inc.
  • YMCA of Central Maryland

Detroit - $48 million

  • Matrix Human Services
  • Metropolitan Children & Youth
  • New St. Paul Tabernacle
  • Starfish Family Services

Jersey City - $8 million 

·         Bergen County Community Action Partnership, Inc.

Sunflower County – $4 million

·         Save the Children, Inc.

Washington, D.C. - $17 million

  • Bright Beginnings, Inc.
  • District of Columbia Public Schools
  • Rosemount Center
  • United Planning Organization

Please visit the Head Start website to learn more about the Birth-to-Five pilot program.

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