Drake University Head Start has received approval from the Office of Head Start for programming changes that will take place in the 2010-11 school year. The Drake University Head Start Policy Council approved these changes during their March 9, 2010 meeting. The factors that led to the changes included a commitment to continued services in the Mitchellville area, the need to serve more children in locations experiencing changes which include increasing levels of poverty, the need to locate services where they can be utilized, a decrease in state funding, and increasing costs being incurred by the Head Start program.
The changes for the 2010-2011 Program Year include:
• The Mitchellville Head Start program will continue. This program, originally funded by Polk County Empowerment will now be funded solely by Head Start Federal funds.
• Both Ankeny Head Start classrooms will continue to operate at the Nevlyn Center; however, wraparound services for the Ankeny 1 program will no longer be funded by Drake University Head Start. This funding will end on June 30, 2010. Drake University Head Start is currently working with the Ankeny YMCA to meet the childcare needs of families and looking into ways to continue to provide these services.
• The Capitol Park Head Start program will end effective June 30, 2010. This closing will also end the wraparound care provided by this program. The program slots from the Capitol Park program will move to the Newton Head Start program, which will move from a 6-hour/day program to a two 3 ½ hour sessions program, increasing the number of children served at this location.
• The Apple Tree Head Start program will end effective June 30, 2010. This closing will also end the wraparound care provided by this program. The program slots from the Apple Tree program will move to the Norwalk Head Start program, which will move from a 6-hour/day program to a two 3 ½ hour sessions program, increasing the number of children served at this location.
• The Bob and Billie Ray Head Start will move from its current location to a location yet to be determined. This decision will also discontinue wraparound services for the slots at this location in which Drake University Head Start provides funding. A new location will be identified for the Head Start program currently located at the Bob and Billie Ray Child Development Center, Easter Seals of Iowa.
The funds from the Capitol Park, Apple Tree, Bob and Billie Ray and Ankeny wraparound programs will be used to continue the Mitchellville program, as well as expand the services offered at the Newton and Norwalk programs and help cover budget line increases in the next program year.
“Our staff will be working with families of continuing children in the locations where there will no longer be Head Start services. Staff will be assisting families to help them identify alternate Head Start classrooms and where needed, identifying childcare resources. It is our hope that these can be smooth transitions for all involved,” Georgia Sheriff, Director of Drake University Head Start, said.
Sheriff promised to provide more information to staff about the new location and other changes as it becomes available. The decisions about changes were reached based on a review of community assessment, community needs and a review of the 2010-2011 budget.
“Please know that the decisions to change programs were difficult ones. At the same time, these decisions were made in the best interest of children and families and to fulfill our requirement to serve those with the greatest need and to best utilize the federal funding we receive,” Sheriff said.
“Drake University Head Start has been very fortunate for many years to have the Ankeny YMCA, Easter Seals of Iowa, Apple Tree and Capitol Park as willing and committed partners. Each of these organizations has gone above and beyond to ensure Head Start children and families have appropriate and comprehensive programming. They came on board when we were just starting our programs and willingly agreed to learn about collaborative programming together. We are sorry to see these programs come to an end. It is our hope that the relationships with the programs and the remarkable staff they employ can be maintained in other ways as we move forward,” Sheriff said.