Farm labor families today have the same need for child care that they did in 1965, based on the program's most recent parent needs assessment survey (completed by 997 parents), in which 59 percent requested full-day care. As a result, all but 9 of Tulare's 27 centers remain open for at least an 8-hour day to serve 621 of the 681 children who receive full-day service.28 In addition, 60 migrant Head Start children are served for the full- day in 17 migrant family homes — a locally designed program option.
Most centers and migrant homes are open from 5:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the summer months, and from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for the rest of the year; some centers, however, are open from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Parents must provide transportation to and from the programs. All full-day centers are open for 230 days a year; they are closed on weekends and for two weeks in July and two weeks in December. The center closings in July create a great deal of hardship for families who are working in the fields, but the Head Start director says her program does not have enough funding to hire substitute staff during that time. She recognizes that it would be better for families, though, if she were able to stagger staff summer vacations.
All children who receive full-day services must meet either Head Start or GCC income eligibility criteria.29 Parents whose children are funded in full or in part by GCC must also be working, in training, looking for work, or have "special circumstances," as defined by the California Department of Education (such as disabilities).
Children who are funded in full by Head Start, in full by GCC, or by both Head Start and GCC are collocated in the same classrooms. (Migrant Head Start children are served exclusively in migrant Head Start homes and are not collocated with non-Head Start children.) When parents enroll their children in the center-based program, they are told which funding source is paying for their child's participation, and center supervisors know children's funding designations for administrative purposes. No other staff member, however, is aware of funding source differences among children, and therefore, all children are treated in exactly the same manner.
The Tulare program's 27 centers had a total waiting list in July of 1994 of 651 children for both full- and part-day service (between 10 and 100 children were waitlisted at each center). The director said that the majority of the children were waiting for full-day service, although she could not readily distinguish between the two without consulting each center individually. Although waiting list ranks are determined primarily by income, as prescribed by the GCC and SPS programs, families also are prioritized based on the 1991 recommendations of the area's Child Care Coordinating Council (a group representing all local social service agencies and a sample of parents that was established to determine the county's day care needs). In cases of equal income, priority is given to homeless parents, teenage parents, incapacitated parents, or parents with special needs children who require respite care. Priority also is given to parents working, seeking employment, or in training. Children referred by Child Protective Services (CPS) are given highest wait-list priority, regardless of parental income.