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From Threat to Opportunity: A Head Start Program’s Response to State-Funded Pre-K

JHHSA, Vol. 35 No. 1, (2012)

Early childhood education and childcare have traditionally been dominated by nonprofit and other grant-funded agencies. However, public education agencies are increasingly involved with early childhood education through state funded pre-K program initiatives. As public pre-school programming has steadily expanded, programs such as Head Start have to compete for enrollment. As funds for these programs are tied directly to enrollment, the sustainability of these programs is uncertain.
Not all such agencies view state funded pre-K as a threat however. Some have seized this as an opportunity to improve service delivery through interagency collaboration. This case study examines the partnership between an urban school district and its local Head Start program. Responding, in part, to the potential threat from state-funded Pre-K, Head Start partnered with the school district to provide enhanced services to Head Start eligible children in the district’s early childhood education programs. Through an examination of secondary data and staff surveys, the collaboration is first evaluated in terms of the use of best practices. The success of the collaboration is measured through teacher and administrator perceptions. From these results, specific recommendations for early education and childcare providers are offered.

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