‘Matchmaking’ Community Colleges and Head Start
A new partnership aims to bring Head Start programs to community college campuses in hopes of better serving students with children.
April 05, 2023
This article was published by Inside Higher Ed on April 5, 2023.
Community colleges serve high numbers of parenting students, but too few institutions have campus childcare centers, or sufficient spots to meet demand, to help these students persist and graduate. At the same time, Head Start, a federally funded program offering free early childhood education to low-income families, is suffering from enrollment declines and staffing shortages.
The National Head Start Association (NHSA) and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) are partnering in hopes of addressing both problems. Leaders of the two organizations plan to lay the groundwork to bring more Head Start centers to community college campuses. They say the program is a natural fit for campuses serving student parents, but these potential collaborations too often go unexplored because campus and Head Start staff members need help forging relationships and navigating the logistics of campuses hosting the federal program.
Over the next six months, NHSA and ACCT will hold focus groups and conducting interviews with Head Start program operators, community college leaders and campus childcare employees to create a road map to move Head Start centers onto their local community college campuses. The initiative is funded by a planning grant from the ECMC Foundation, which is focused on improving higher education for underserved students, and the Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation, a family foundation dedicated to equitable access to public services.