Category: Education

It’s Almost Summer

For the kids, the phrase, “It’s almost summer,” brings big smiles and sparkling eyes.  Summer means two months of freedom…freedom from getting up early, going to school, structure, and homework.  For educators, summer means a break in the public school system, but not for those in the private childcare sector.  Summer means school agers who don’t want to be in structure attending summer camps all over the city.  The end of the school year brings end of year evaluations.  Summer means reviewing those evaluations and planning for the next school year.  Summer does not mean rest.

A quality program looks at how the previous school year went, identifies strengths and weaknesses, and makes plans on how to increase the strengths and improve the weaknesses.  This does not mean that the program is low performing.  It means that the program is being proactive in making the education services to advance to the next level.  We know as educators that we are always learning and being able to pass that on to our children and their families benefits all.

I have worked with hundreds of teachers and administrators through evaluating programs, providing feedback and teacher education as well as helping to plan for improvement.  For the most part, I have always met teachers who are open to learning how increase the quality of their classrooms.  Teachers are teachers because they want to help children learn.  It isn’t an easy career and we know that the salaries do not adequately compensate for the work, but the teaching field is truly a labor of love.  We teach because we love it.  I work with centers because I believe that every child deserves quality education, from the very beginning to the very end of their school life.  For most children, the very beginning starts at three and sometimes as early as 2 months of age.

Fresh eyes assessing a classroom or reviewing the required center paperwork only can help Directors and administrators know where they stand and where they need to go.  Education is about learning and learning is about growing.  Organizations can learn and grow along with the children and families that they serve.

Head Start and Early Head Start

For many Head Start programs around the country, the sequester is forcing tough decisions regarding staff, children and services offered to those in need.  A mandatory 5% cut in funding is required by all Head Start and Early Head Start programs with the results including laying off employees, combining positions so that one employee is now doing the work of two or more and terminating enrollment for children.  The sequester may be what some people felt was needed but it does affect more than just a small number of needy children and families.  And with all of this to handle, Head Start and Early Head Start programs may also be looking at applying for additional funding.  Even with the sequester, grants are up for bid in areas all over the United States.

Based on the reformed Head Start requirements, programs with deficiencies during a Federal Review are required to re-bid for their grants.  This means that the grants are open to bids from other agencies for the same or split service areas.  Organizations that think they can provide higher quality of services are encouraged to apply for the funding and to present their case to the Office of Head Start in the form of a grant application.   To prepare for this, the Office of Head Start recruited Grant Reviewers.  Over 1,300 applicants were selected to participate in a training in Washington, DC, and of those applicants, 20% were chosen to be reviewers for the applications.  I was in the 20% that was chosen, trained, vetted, and consistently used to review applications in the first round of re-competition.

After working in the fields of early childhood education, non-profits and social services for over 20 years, I have often heard agency staff talk about another agency’s program and how they could do it better.  The refunding provides opportunities for those staff to show how they would do it…differently, better, more efficient.  As someone who has been trained, interviewed, and employed by the Office of Head Start to review grant applications, I understand what they are looking for when those applications are submitted.  As someone who has worked in early childhood in a variety of roles, including as a Teacher, Center Director, Coordinator, and Department Director, I understand Head Start and Early Head Start services and goals.  With my combined experience, I am able to offer my support in applying for a Head Start grant and in evaluating current services being offered.  I can tell you what your program’s strengths are as well as identify areas that need improvement.  I can review your grant application and provide feedback as to what works and what needs editing.

The Head Start and Early Head Start populations are among the neediest in the country.  The funds for these services come from the people of the United States.  These services are required to be high quality and make an impact and they should meet those requirements.  This program not only provides early childhood education, it also provides services to help family members gain employment, further education, and become self-sufficient.  Children who receive early childhood education are more successful in school which also affects society and everyone involved.  This program fills a need and makes a difference and it should be required to meet the highest standards.  I can help you program be one of the best and showcase that in your grant application.

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