How States Are Building On The Promise Of Early Head Start
Sep 16, 2007
The federal Early Head Start program was created to help minimize the disparities caused by poverty by supporting the healthy development of low-income infants and toddlers in the context of their families and communities. Research has shown that Early Head Start positively impacts children and their families in areas associated with children s success in school, family self-sufficiency, and parental support of child development. Unfortunately, less than three percent of all eligible children are currently served with federal funds.
To build on these successes, some states have taken action to expand and enhance Early Head Start services for more infants, toddlers and their families. CLASP and ZERO TO THREE are in the midst of the first extensive study of state efforts, and have found four diverse approaches being used by state policymakers:
- Extend the day or year of existing EHS services. The most common approach (10 states) is to help extend the day or year of EHS services through policies or access to additional funding (often from the child care subsidy system).
- Expand the capacity of existing EHS programs to increase the number of children and pregnant women served. Nine states expand the capacity of existing federal Head Start or Early Head Start grantees to serve more infants and toddlers by providing grants to programs receiving federal Early Head Start funds for this purpose or by expanding the allowable uses of state supplemental funding for Head Start programs to include EHS slots.
- Support partnerships between EHS and center-based and family child care providers to improve the quality of care. Four states provide funding for EHS-child care partnerships, but use very different approaches. One creates partnerships between EHS and family child care and family, friend, and neighbor care settings, and requires that EHS programs implement the home-based model with children in those settings. Others use EHS child care partnerships to actually deliver EHS in child care settings that do not receive federal EHS funds, or to leverage federal expertise and resources to improve quality of child care partners.
- Provide resources to child care providers to help them attain EHS standards. Two new state initiatives will leverage new funds and supports to transform child care providers to meet most EHS standards.