Head Start Centers to Expand Childcare Access at Community Colleges
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- The National Head Start Association and the Association of Community College Trustees are partnering to bring more Head Start centers to community colleges.
- Officials hope the centers will cut back on a shortage of childcare access and early childhood educators.
- The partnership will pair local Head Start programs with community colleges that can offer free space.
- Roughly 1 in 10 undergraduate students in the U.S. are single mothers, and the vast majority of those students have incomes at or near the poverty line, according to a press release.
More community colleges are set to get free on-campus early childhood care and education centers as part of a new initiative.
The National Head Start Association and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) on Wednesday announced a partnership to boost the number of Head Start slots on college campuses. Those programs "will allow students on campus access to free, high-quality early learning," according to a press release.
"Almost half of postsecondary students with children attend community colleges," ACCT President and CEO Jee Hang Lee said in the release. "Abundant evidence shows that child care is a primary barrier that keeps too many community college students from persisting and completing their education."
Students who are parents need to work an average of 52 hours per week to afford both childcare and tuition costs at a four-year public college at a minimum-wage job, according to a 2022 report from the Education Trust.
That report found that there is no state where a student can work 10 hours a week at a minimum-wage job and afford both tuition and childcare costs, although affordability varies widely between states.
Community colleges will offer rent-free facilities to Head Start programs as part of the partnership, according to the release, allowing those programs to both increase their enrollment and recruit early childhood education students to work at the center. That means the partnership will address both a shortage of early childhood educators and a growing need for childcare services.
"Adding free Head Start slots at community college campuses sustainably addresses funding gaps in both early childhood and higher education," Abigail Seldin, CEO of the Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation, said in the release. "Connecting two best-in-class industry associations to match — and support — their members through the relocation process aligns with our mission to expand access to public services."
Roughly 1 in 10 undergraduate students in the U.S. are single mothers, and the vast majority of those students have incomes at or near the poverty line, according to the release.
The partnership will look to match existing Head Start operators with community colleges that can offer free facilities, according to the release. Head Start operators are required to raise a 20% philanthropic match to their federal grant funding, and the community college free-rent agreements will allow them to meet that requirement, according to the release.