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Serving Vulnerable Families: The Important Work of Head Start Programs

by Yasmina Vinci
May/June 2012
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/serving-vulnerable-families-the-important-work-of-head-start-programs/5020512/

The Obama Administration’s most recent regulation on designation renewal of Early/Head Start grantees opens opportunities for early childhood programs in some communities to compete with existing grantees for the federal funding. Understanding some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into Head Start may be helpful to centers deciding whether to enter local grant competitions and make the commitment to serving the most vulnerable of all children and their families.

Years ago as a young director of a non-profit child care center for low-income families, I was fascinated by how different our local Head Start center seemed from other programs. They had enough resources to have a fleet of yellow school buses and a family coordinator and a nurse on staff. Resisting envy, we copied the model, employing a new social work graduate to work with families, and a nurse to spend a couple of hours with us at the beginning of each day and be on-call the rest of the time.

Over the years, my fascination with, and ambivalence about, what I perceived as Head Start’s exceptionality (and resources) was tempered with my increasing insight into this important national commitment. Compared to my own and my child care director colleagues’ ...

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