Proposals requested to provide Head Start services

by Sarah Fay Campbell

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Children in the Head Start pre-k program at Little River Preschool Center in Woodstock start their day with breakfast in the cafeteria. 


This fall, educational organizations will be able to apply for the chance to become the Head Start provider in Coweta, Heard, Harris, Meriwether and Carroll counties.

Community Action for Improvement Inc. has held the Head Start contract in this area for decades, but will have to compete for funding this year following incidents where one child was injured and another where a child was left unattended .

“The funding opportunity announcement will be made sometime this fall, and will be open for 60 days,” said Laura Goulding with the Administration for Children and Families, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Office of Head Start. If a new organization is chosen to provide Head Start, the changes will take effect for the 2015-2016 school year.

Head Start and Early Head Start are federally funded pre-K and early childhood education programs for low-income children. Services and meals are free for those who qualify.

CAFI offers Head Start centers in East Newnan and Haralson, as well as in 10 other centers in the five-county area. Head Start funding used to be an open ended grant and programs qualified for automatic renewal. The Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007 altered the funding process, and the Designation Renewal System was implemented in 2011, according to Goulding.

Currently, only Head Start agencies found to be delivering high-quality and comprehensive programs meeting the educational, health, nutritional, and social needs of the children and families may be designated for renewal and receive continued funding automatically, without having to compete.

During the next few years, all Head Start grants will transition from indefinite grants to five-year, fixed term grants, according to the letter sent to CAFI from the federal Office of Head Start.

CAFI must compete due to the two incidents that occurred in 2012.

The first incident occurred Jan. 31 at the Haralson center. A child reported the teacher’s assistant, who was filling in because the teacher was out on leave, had hurt him because he wouldn’t take a nap. According to the report, the teacher’s assistant forced the child’s head onto the matt, and the ensuing injury required two stitches.

According to the report, the teacher’s assistant was fired and prosecuted for child cruelty, and the center manager was demoted. CAFI was also fined $499 for failing to report an incident requiring medical attention. All staff at the center, including management, received additional training on the standards of conduct, proper methods of child guidance and reporting requirements in March 2012 – and again before the 2012-2013 school year.

On Feb. 22, a child was left unattended on the playground at the Head Start center in Franklin for approximately 20 minutes, according to a review report. When the child’s grandmother came to pick him up, she was told the boy’s mother had already picked him up. When it was determined that the child hadn’t been picked up, a teacher’s assistant found him hiding in a “tunneled play structure.”

According to the report, two classroom staff members were suspended for leaving the child unsupervised, for attempting to hide the infraction and for not reporting it. The lead teacher at the Franklin Center, who was acting as center manager, was suspended for not reporting an unrelated incident. A corrective action plan was approved in April 2012, and staff at the Franklin center underwent refresher training on supervising children and reporting incidents.

CAFI was also found to be in violation of the annual reporting requirements and the requirement to determine the health status of all students.

According to a review conducted in December 2013, CAFI did not ensure that its 2012 annual report included all the required information, including an explanation of budgetary expenditures, a proposed budget for the next year and information regarding efforts to prepare children for kindergarten.

Finally, the agency was out of compliance with the requirement that Head Start providers obtain a determination from a health care professional that each children is up to date on preventative and primary health care. The determinations are supposed to be made within 90 days after the child enters the program.

According to the report, 87 files were reviewed. Seven did not contain evidence of health care determinations.

Agencies interested in providing Head Start services will have the opportunity to submit proposals, said Goulding. Interested organizations can find more information at http://1.usa.gov/1AF6l5e.



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