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


In providing full-day services, Puget Sound found that some Head Start standards must be adapted and that sometimes the standards themselves impede the implementation of Head Start. The challenges are particularly apparent in the family child care option. Although all family child care providers agree with the Head Start philosophy, sometimes it is hard to comply with Head Start standards with a group of mixed ages. For example, Head Start recommends placing pictures low on the wall, but toddlers tear them down. Puget Sound ESD Head Start was surprised to find that one of the biggest barriers to recruiting family child care providers was that many licensed providers wanted to be able to provide a religious influence in their child care, which is against Head Start regulations.

Several special challenges have been faced. Head Start requirements for parent involvement and home visits are difficult to meet with a full-day program. To ease this problem, some staff indicated that they would like to count the time they spend with parents at arrival and departure times as "time served," but this is not currently acceptable. It is difficult to arrange sufficient staff training. Some Head Start managers report that staff experience burnout from a full-day, every day, with children; and for those staff who were used to four to six contact hours a day, the change to full-day has been difficult.

At Puget Sound ESD Head Start, managers see a need for more strategic planning around full-day services, involving all of their subcontractors in the planning process. For example, it has taken some time to convince part-day staff that Head Start family child care is still Head Start; limited resources require difficult decisions regarding expansion of full-day options when the program still does not serve all eligible children with part- day services.