County Preschool Director Seeks Another $12.4 Million In Fed Head Start Funds

The director of the county’s preschool services department is proposing to have the federal government provide the county with over $9,800 per child to boost the participation of each of more than 1,200 three- and four and five-year-olds in the county already enrolled in the Head Start Program. The requested $12,407,804 federal government grant will come on top of the more than $42.6 million the county is already receiving yearly for the program.
Head Start is a program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that has been in existence since 1965 and provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families.
At locations throughout San Bernardino County, there are currently 292 children enrolled in full day, full year services, and there are 3,577 children enrolled in part day, part year center-based services. The program includes health services, and developmental and behavioral screenings, with the overall goal of increasing the school readiness of young children in economically disadvantaged families. Other services include parent education, family support, and social services, which are designed to support and empower Head Start families.
Diana Alexander, the director of San Bernardino County’s Preschool Services Department, this week told the Sentinel, “The current program provides full day services to 7.5 percent (292) of the children we serve; the rest receive part day services. This supplement would enable us to provide full day services to 40 percent (1,254 children) of the children we serve.”
At present, according to Alexander, “The Preschool Services Department is receiving $42,656,596.00 to run both the Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Our county contribution at present, or non-federal share requirement is $10,664,150.00. We do not receive any general fund dollars from the county.”
Alexander this week sought and obtained permission from the board of supervisors to apply for the federal grant.
“The Preschool Services Department will use the Head Start Program supplemental grant funds to extend the duration of comprehensive, developmental and preschool services from part day, part year to full day, full year for 1,254 children in Adelanto, Apple Valley, Crestline, Fontana, Highland, Ontario, Phelan, Redlands, Rialto, San Bernardino and Upland.,” Alexander told the board of supervisors. “The request includes $7,425,994 for increased ongoing operating costs for the Head Start Program and $4,981,810 for one-time start-up costs for items such as purchase and installation of several modular buildings, playgrounds, and shade structures, as well as one-time initial purchases of classroom supplies. The grant application is due to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families by July 22, 2016.”
Alexander told the Sentinel, “The local contribution to the program, or non-federal share portion, would be $3,101,951.00. We will not be receiving any general fund dollars from the county for these services.” Alexander said, “Approximately 13 Preschool Services Department preschools and 305 staff, consisting of some new hires along with some current staff whose time will be allocated to this work and will be impacted by this change to full day services, will be involved. The cost per child is $9,895.”
Alexander said, “Research suggests that having high-quality, full school day and full school year care is particularly important for low-income children to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. Based on this research, the Office of Head Start is working to expand the number of children who participate in full school day and full school year programs. Extending the duration of time in Head Start programs also enables greater alignment with extended-day kindergarten. Extended-day kindergarten exceeds the four-hour maximum of other kindergarten classes. In some school districts, extended-day kindergarten classes are the same length as those for the older elementary school students.”
The application for federal grant money to augment San Bernardino County’s Head Start Program was made even as the federal funding for the already in-place program during the current fiscal year is not yet a certainty. On April 19, 2016, the the board of supervisors approved the submission of a grant application to United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families for continued support of Head Start program services in the amount of $37,929,317, for the grant period of July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017. The application was submitted to meet the requirements for grant continuation of the Head Start Program. As of earlier this week, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families had not yet issued a grant award for the program.

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