The mission of the Head Start program (providing quality pre-school opportunities for the city’s 2- to 4-year-olds) does not conform with the mission of the Department of Housing and Community Development (increasing the supply of and access to various types of housing and maintaining the general well-being of the city’s neighborhoods). The Head Start program diverts management resources from fulfillment of the agency’s primary mission, and management is not necessarily trained or equipped to determine whether Head Start provides an ideal or appropriate program for pre-school age children.
Create a task force out of the Mayor’s Office to assess the costs and benefits of transferring the Head Start program to the Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS).The task force should also assess the general status of city services offered to children aged 0 to 5. The assessment should include:
– an examination of services available to children not eligible for existing programs;
– a review of day care, Head Start and BCPSS-provided pre-school curricula and an assessment of kindergarten preparedness among Head Start and day care recipients;
– the development of a leadership succession plan for Head Start’s founder and long-time director, who is on the verge of retirement; and
– an assessment of the existing liaison function within the Mayor’s Office of Children and Youth and the level of communication among city service providers.
HCD Head Start division
Estimated Annual Impact:
A transfer of Head Start out of HCD would result in improved HCD service delivery, as it would free up senior management time currently directed toward the $32 million Head Start program. In addition, a thorough examination of Head Start’s mission and a possible transfer to BCPSS might result in an improved Head Start program with better resulting outcomes for participants.
Estimated Implementation Costs:
Barriers to Implementation:
Resistance from staff within the HCD Head Start division, and possible capacity shortfall within the Department of Education.
1 – 1.5 years: 6 months for task force analysis, 6 months to a year for implementation.
Create a Mayoral task force consisting of representatives from the local and national Head Start programs, HCD and Department of Education leadership, and Head Start program participants, among others. Clearly define the mission of the Baltimore Head Start program. Determine whether proposed consolidation of Head Start with BCPSS pre-kindergarten and day care programs provides additional benefits through resource-sharing and/or program oversight and development by managers with professional backgrounds in early childhood education.
See The Abell Foundation draft report, ‘The Untapped Potential of Baltimore City Public Schools’ (April 2000) for a review of the city’s Head Start program.