Mayor Rawlings-Blake Announces New 5-Year Grant to Expand Head Start Programs in Baltimore City

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Brandon M. Scott
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Mayor Rawlings-Blake announces the Head Start Birth-to-Five Pilot Program in Baltimore

Mayor Rawlings-Blake Announces New 5-Year Grant to Expand Head Start Programs in Baltimore City

Head Start Birth-to-Five Pilot Program Seeks Strong Push for Earlier Care and Education

BALTIMORE, Md. (June 12, 2014)—Today, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the United States Department of Health and Human Services jointly announced that the City of Baltimore has been awarded $29 million in federal funding for a new Birth-to-Five pilot program for Head Start and Early Head Start services. The Birth-to-Five pilot program aims to give communities greater flexibility in designing Head Start and Early Head Start services to better serve the needs of young children and communities from birth until they enter pre-k or kindergarten.

“This grant will allow the Head Start programs throughout Baltimore to enhance their operations to better meet the needs of our children,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “By offering increased support at an even younger age, our children will be more equipped for successful learning when they enter elementary school. This additional funding will offer further support to take our children to the next level.”

Through the Birth-to-Five funding opportunity announcement, Health and Human Services’ Office of Head Start (OHS), a division of the Administration for Children and Families, encouraged applicants to design a single, comprehensive proposal based on community needs and organizational capacity. In the past, an organization had to submit separate applications to fund services for both Head Start (preschool-aged children) and Early Head Start (pregnant women, infants, and toddlers). With the new approach, each agency was allowed to submit a single application to provide a continuum of care—including services for expectant families—through a Birth-to-Five Head Start program.

“Each community involved in this pilot responded favorably to the streamlined application process. We saw an increase in competition and significant growth in the proposed number of children served by Early Head Start, allowing them to start at a younger age,” said Ann Linehan, acting director of the Office of Head Start.

Fifteen organizations in five communities—Baltimore, MD; Detroit, MI; Jersey City, NJ; Sunflower County, MS; and Washington, D.C.—have entered negotiations to receive federal funding as part of the new Birth-to-Five pilot for Head Start and Early Head Start services.

The five communities were specifically chosen to represent a wide variety of geographic and demographic challenges and opportunities. The Office of Head Start had designated the grantees in these areas to compete for funding due to deficiencies found during prior monitoring reviews.

“The response to this Birth-to-Five pilot points to increased need for high-quality infant and toddler care through Early Head Start,” said Linda Smith, deputy assistant secretary and interdepartmental liaison for early childhood development for children and families, Administration for Children and Families. “This reinforces the administration’s early childhood plan to expand the home visiting program, increase access to infant and toddler care, and make pre-kindergarten available for all.”

The Office of Head Start has continued to raise its expectations for classroom quality and program integrity to ensure a high quality Head Start experience for children and families. In addition to improving the application process, grantees who aren’t meeting certain thresholds must compete with other potential early childhood education providers for continued funding. OHS has also initiated a large scale improvement of the grantee training and technical assistance system.

The preliminary grantees of the $29 million grant include:

  • Associated Catholic Charities
  • Maryland Family Network
  • Mayor and City Council of Baltimore City
  • St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore, Inc.
  • Y of Central Maryland

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