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

03/07/1995

Several challenges were met by staff in establishing this full-day program. First, they had to mesh Job Corps and Head Start requirements. The directors of Head Start and the Job Corps Center reported that approvals of architectural drawings were required from regional and national offices of both programs, that Federal staff often did not agree with one another, and that the approvals took far too much time. One office would approve a drawing; the other would ask for changes. The architect would make changes and then the other office would disapprove of some feature. A joint agreement established at the national level would greatly facilitate such endeavors in the future.

Second, the staffing of these full-day classrooms is not ideal. Staff members do not have sufficient breaks, time for home visits, and time for training. The director currently uses the "floating aide" to help relieve the full-day staff, but would like to see a third full-time staff member in each class, and/or higher pay for the current staff.

Third, one cook with periodic assistance from Work Experience staff is not ideal. The cook must create different meals for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, and amounts must be exact. At present, Head Start staff are seeing too little milk or too much of some foods in meals served to their children. It may be that the cook needs one regular, paid assistant in order to make certain that all USDA requirements are adhered to. Head Start and Job Corps need to do some negotiating on this at the local level.

Although faced with some challenges, grantee staff feel very positive about their offering of full-day services and think frequently about ways to expand these services. For example, Head Start staff have conducted a number of needs assessments in their service area, surveying parents, day care home providers, businesses, and community members about the need for care. Of the 411 parents who answered the survey, 220 (more than half) said that full-day care (at least 6 hours a day, 5 days a week) would best meet their child care needs. A full 275 said that if Head Start could offer day care, they would enroll their child(ren) in the full-day program. Thus, grantee staff see a large unmet need for full-day care; and they are very pleased to be able to offer at least 30 families this option. Staff members feel strongly that parents are more relaxed if they know their children are in a good learning environment, are safe, and will remain in one place for the whole day. Expansion of full-day services would further assist community families with young children.