Puget Sound began to offer full-day Head Start in centers in the 1980's, with the opening of a small program at Bellevue Community College. In April of 1993, a second program opened at Redmond Family Village, a transitional housing facility operated by the YWCA. A third program began in January 1994 — Families First Head Start — that combines Head Start funds with CCDP funds and state child care subsidies. Finally, a program at Sherwood Forest is scheduled to open in September of 1994, but will not be discussed at length because it was not operative at the time of the site visit.
In 1990, Puget Sound received a three-year demonstration grant to develop and operate in a different venue — family child care homes. One purpose of the project was to explore the feasibility of training low-income parents to become family child care providers, thus helping them to gain economic self- sufficiency. Under the demonstration, 4 of 11 family child care providers were AFDC recipients and two others had incomes low enough for their own children to qualify for Head Start. About 30 families were provided full-day services each year under this three-year demonstration grant.
When the demonstration funding ended in February of 1993, the program received "bridge funding" to continue operating until September of that year. The grantee then received expansion funding, which allowed it to operate the program as part of regular Head Start. One change in the program as it moved from a demonstration to an ongoing option was in the recruitment and selection of providers. Because it was more costly to bring AFDC recipients "on-line," the grantee chose to require that new providers have a high school diploma or GED and already be licensed for family child care by the state. Puget Sound staff could then train them to be Head Start providers. Program managers and coordinators indicate that the family child care Head Start program had a "rocky road" to travel at first, requiring extensive facilities upgrades, training, recruitment, and parent education, but the process is "smoothing out" and the prospects for success of the ongoing program are very good.
In launching the initial demonstration grant, Puget Sound had relatively little "hard" data on the need for full-day services, but it went ahead with the idea because anecdotal evidence and input from child care, Head Start, and income assistance staff indicated a strong need for full-day Head Start/child care services, capable of serving all children under 5 years of age in a family. In 1992, Puget Sound joined with the state-funded Early Childhood Education and Assistance Programs (ECEAP) to conduct a community needs assessment for the period 1992 to 1995. This study quantified the need for full-day services and identified the locations with the most significant service gaps. Welfare reform efforts in the state have also given full-day services a push.
The grantee acknowledges strong support from Head Start Region X for their efforts to provide full-day Head Start. The regional office is learning, along with Puget Sound ESD, about the complexities of such efforts, especially with regard to meshing multiple funding streams.