Options for Full-Day Services for Children Participating in Head Start . Purpose of This Study


Although Head Start does have legislative authority to pay for full-day services, programs of this type are rare and often limited to populations with special needs such as children of migrant workers. To provide additional full-day options, grantees have been encouraged to provide extended hours of care by pulling together funding from other Federal, state and local sources. As the Report of the Advisory Committee on Head Start Quality and Expansion indicates, "Although some directors have been successful in putting wrap-around services together, little is known about the quality of services or the continuity of care for the children." (p.16).1

In response to these concerns, the present study examines a variety of approaches for the provision of full-day services to children in the Head Start program. Because the study is a short-term project, its goal is to summarize (1) program services, (2) achievements, and (3) challenges faced by a small set of grantees. In particular, its objectives are as follows:

  • To carefully document alternative approaches to full-day service provision, as currently offered by eight Head Start grantees;
  • To identify the strengths and weaknesses of those approaches for the children and families served, the Head Start grantees, and the Federal program administrators;
  • To describe the key policy choices for Federal Head Start administrators in expanding full-day services; and
  • To clarify issues and research questions regarding the provision of full-day services that should be considered for further evaluation.

The remaining sections of Chapter I describe the history of full-day services in the Head Start program, the methodology of this study, the grantees who were included in the sample, and the approaches used to provide full-day care. Chapter II discusses findings in terms of the commonalities in philosophy and implementation of full-day services across grantees and the issues grantees confront in program management, program services for children, funding, and collaboration. Chapter III discusses the key policy choices for Federal staff, as more grantees elect to offer full-day services, and includes a set of research questions for further study. The site visit summaries are in Appendix A.