Options for Full-Day Services for Children Participating in Head Start . Facilities


Several issues related to facilities limit grantees' ability to expand full-day services. In many ways, the facilities issues for full-day programs are no different from those faced by part- day programs looking to expand services. Yet differences do exist. First, by running double sessions, part-day programs can serve twice as many children in the same space as full-day programs. Second, full-day programs need to be conveniently located for parents who are working or in training; parents faced with tight work schedules need facilities convenient to main routes or public transportation. And third, licensing requirements may include larger per student space requirements for full-day programs. Classrooms need to be large enough to set up cots or allow other sleeping arrangements for naptime.

One grantee reports that finding facilities that meet licensing requirements is a major obstacle. For this grantee, local land values prohibit the purchase of facilities even though Head Start now allows this activity. Rental property, which is also scarce, is so expensive as to be prohibitive. The director is continually looking for space to rent and sees this lack of facilities as the grantee's largest obstacle to expanding full- day services.

Other grantees indicated that the costs of renovating or installing portable or modular buildings requires more up-front funding than they can afford. The alternative to the grantee's paying for these costs is to find a funding partner. The directors report that grant writing, which can take up significant amounts of time, is often without a payoff — they do not get the funding. Several directors felt that writing grants was not the best use of their time.

Still another grantee had trouble fulfilling the requirements and gaining approvals for extensive renovations required to convert an old college dormitory to a child care facility. When Head Start entered into an agreement with Job Corps, all decisions regarding renovations of the facility had to be approved by both organizations. The directors of Head Start and Job Corps reported that approvals were required from regional and national offices of both programs and that Federal staff often did not agree with one another. This greatly slowed down the renovation process and required considerable time and energy on the part of the Head Start and Job Corps directors. In fact, it took nearly 2 years to complete the renovations of the center — a delay of nearly 1 year — due in large part to continual problems in approving small changes.

Grantees have begun to work closely with local licensing agencies in order to facilitate the process of opening new full- day facilities. For example, one grantee chose to purchase modular buildings, which are designed especially for the provision of full-day Head Start. Staff sent the proposed blueprints to the licensing agency in advance of the purchase to ensure that all licensing requirements would be met.