NewsNew Initiative To Bring Head Start Centers To College Campuses

New Initiative To Bring Head Start Centers To College Campuses

On-campus Head Start centers provide a valuable resource for those balancing academic pursuits while raising young children.

A new initiative between the Association of Community College Trustees and the National Head Start Association is working to establish Head Start centers on college campuses.

NPR reported that the five-year initiative addresses the needs of nearly 4 million U.S. college students raising children while pursuing their degrees, with over a third attending community colleges.

Carrie Warick-Smith, who oversees public policy at the Association of Community College Trustees, emphasized the mutual benefits of such collaborations. “It’s a partnership that just makes sense…For parents who are going to college, it means an easier commute. You don’t have to make two stops, and they know their children are getting a high-quality experience that’s free,” Warick-Smith said.

The collaboration also benefits the colleges and Head Start centers themselves. Community colleges often offer early education degrees and certificates, and on-campus Head Start centers provide practical classroom experience, addressing the national childcare workforce shortage by creating a direct pipeline for graduating students to work in Head Start centers. Warick-Smith, who helped create “Kids on Campus,” a guide to set up new partnerships, noted that colleges benefit from having these programs because “this makes it more likely that people are going to enroll, persist, and graduate.”

San Antonio College has already taken the innovative approach by establishing a Head Start center on its campus that provides free, federally funded childcare programs tailored to promote school readiness for children from low-income families. Stephanie Perez, a 23-year-old former student, had her daughter while working toward her certificate in early childhood education. She did her student teaching in the campus’ Head Start classrooms and, after graduating, secured a full-time teaching job there.

Carrie Marshall Gross, a professor of early childhood education at Manchester Community College in New Hampshire, echoed the benefits: “Having that right on campus is an extension of our college classroom in a lot of ways.” Her students frequently observe and participate in the on-site Head Start preschool as part of their curriculum.

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Source: Black Enterprise

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