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

03/07/1995

Each of the eight grantees visited has successfully built full-day services for a group of Head Start children. The directors of the wraparound and wrap-in programs believe that their services meet Head Start Performance Standards throughout the day; the director of the connected care model strives to build partnerships with high-quality providers but does not always succeed because of the relatively low reimbursement rate she is authorized to pay.

Grantee staff reported their solutions to the issues of structuring group learning activities in the afternoon, conducting all required home visits, involving parents in the program, providing training to classroom staff, scheduling the work hours of classroom staff to cover the full day, managing multiple funding sources, and creating lasting interagency collaborations. Potential barriers in the funding area were the most significant for grantees, including the loss of a child's eligibility for funding due to a change in parental status, problematic cash flow when funding sources reimbursed expenditures, and insufficient revenues to cover costs. At the least, grantee staff work closely with staff from other funding sources to ensure the necessary cash flow. When it is possible, grantees create agreements for payment of services that ease the burden on them (e.g., arrangements that divide the costs among agencies so line items need not be allocated, agreements that cost allocation for each line item should follow a single formula, or an agreement that costs need not be allocated at all).

One common characteristic of these grantee directors was a willingness to question "the system." If they faced a barrier to the delivery of high-quality services to children and families, they found a way to overcome it. Most have the energy and ability of entrepreneurs to build a successful venture and keep on striving to make it all it can be — the best possible service for children and families.

In all likelihood, Head Start programs across the country will be following in the footsteps of the eight grantees that we visited as they forge partnerships with other agencies and programs to offer full-day services to their families. Throughout this process, grantees will be looking toward the Federal office for guidance in designing and supporting these new efforts. This study provides information about the barriers to service provision that are associated with three different approaches to providing full-day services. Exhibit 5, which summarizes some of the main findings from this study, was designed to assist policymakers in thinking about the characteristics of each model and their implications for both the grantees and Federal staff.