Head Start teachers from all center-based and family child care sites are required to participate in at least 50 hours of training each year, including a 1-week summer institute. All contracted sites must provide arrangements for staff working with Head Start/PreK children to participate in this training. For non-Head Start teachers, training is at the discretion of the child care center director.
Arranging for training time is more difficult for the staff at contracted centers than it is at the school-based Head Start programs. Head Start staff in part-day programs are paid for 8 hours per day, but children are at school for only 6 hours. Also, there is an early-release day every Wednesday, which is used for training. Since it is hard for contractor staff to attend this training, more of the training is provided on-site at their full-day centers.
At full-day centers, coverage must be provided for the classroom when a teacher is in training. Often the teacher provided by Head Start will cover the classroom while the child care center teacher attends training. The centers are responsible for finding their own substitutes to cover for training. Some centers recruit parents for this role, providing training (for a fee) to interested parents, since substitutes must be certified by the School Board. For some parents this provides an opportunity for advancement, moving from volunteer to substitute, and continuing, perhaps, toward CDA training.
Staff at contracted centers understand that attending training is part of their obligation as Head Start providers. Staff log in hours on the Child-Plus computer system, and everyone receives a printout of their training to-date. In addition, arrangements are made for visits between contracted centers and school-based programs, for the sharing of ideas; and Head Start provides classroom coverage so teachers can observe master classes.
All instructors and assistants in the Head Start/PreK program are given the opportunity to earn their CDA credential. The community college in Gainesville, as well as Basic Adult Education, offer CDA training, and equivalent training is provided at the Family Service Center. JTPA pays for some of the training for eligible individuals, and Head Start staff direct applicants to appropriate JTPA contacts.