Webinar: COVID-19 Response in Region XI AIAN Head Start: How Children’s Centers and Programs Faced the Pandemic

Publication Date: April 8, 2021


The American Indian and Alaska Native Family and Child Experiences Survey (AIAN FACES 2019) was designed and implemented through a partnership of Region XI AIAN Head Start leaders, researchers, and federal officials.  Region XI Head Start programs are those operated by grants to federally-recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes.  AIAN FACES 2019 is a national study of Region XI Head Start children and families.  The study was conducted with 22 Region XI Head Start programs during the 2019-2020 program year.  This webinar is the second of a series on findings from the second round of AIAN FACES (first done in 2015).  This webinar provides a selection of findings from questions to children’s program and center directors on how they were providing services during the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020 and the perspectives of the Office of Head Start Region XI Regional Program Manager and a Region XI Head Start program director at the onset of the pandemic.

Research Questions

  1. What contact did children’s programs and centers have with children and families?
  2. What needs did children’s families express and what services did their center provide to meet these needs?
  3. What supports did children’s programs find helpful, and what did they provide to staff?


This webinar explores findings from the spring 2020 data collection of AIAN FACES 2019 related to program and center responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.  AIAN FACES offers Region XI an important source of nationally representative information.  This webinar provides information from program and center directors on program closure, contact with/services for enrolled families, changes in services/referrals for enrolled families, contact with staff, program enrollment concerns, professional development for staff, and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding for summer programs.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • Programs experienced both family-related and staff-related barriers to contacting or providing services to enrolled families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Directors reported more family-related barriers than staff-related barriers.
  • The biggest staff-related barriers Region XI Head Start children’s programs faced were limited access to hardware to connect to the internet and limited internet access.
  • Almost ½ of Region XI Head Start children’s centers added or increased educational activities to support children’s learning at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In the majority of children’s centers, families expressed that because of the COVID-19 pandemic they needed food and nutrition supports from centers (for example, centers providing meals to families).
  • Region XI Head Start children’s programs provided many supports for professional development and day-to-day operations for their staff during the COVID-19 pandemic that were not provided before.


The study was designed to be sensitive to and respectful of the diverse nature of Native cultures. Adult study participants completed surveys online, on the phone, or on paper. Children participating in the study met one-on-one with study staff for an assessment of their school readiness skills. 

Related Documents


Lertjuntharangool, Todd, Michelle Sarche, Lizabeth Malone, Sara Bernstein, Lana Garcia, Meryl Barofsky and Laura Hoard (2020). COVID-19 Response in Region XI AIAN Head Start: How Children’s Centers and Programs Faced the Pandemic, OPRE Report #2021-31, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


AIAN: American Indian and Alaska Native