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Statement on Multiple Program Coordination in Early Childhood Education by Olivia A.Golden
Assistant Secretary for Children and Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring and the District of Columbia
May 11, 1999

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee,

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the coordination of early childhood programs. Mr. Chairman, I know that early childhood education has been a top priority of yours for many years, and I particularly welcome the chance to discuss these important issues with you because of my deep respect for your accomplishments on behalf of young children during your tenure as Governor of Ohio.

As you know, early childhood education has also been a high priority for the Administration. In partnership with the Congress, the Administration has provided leadership in three different and complementary ways: by expanding public investment to serve more needy children and families, by stronger efforts to improve program quality and accountability, and by creative work to support partnerships across different early childhood programs.

There is a tremendous need for public investment to help low income families with child care expenses and to provide high quality, comprehensive early childhood programs to help children enter school ready to learn. Data from 1997 showed that less than 15% of the 10 million children who qualify for the Child Care and Development Block Grant were obtaining a subsidy and Head Start still serves less than 50% of low-income preschool children. Accordingly, President Clinton has placed a high priority on steady increases in early childhood funding, leading to doubling the level of funding for child care, expansion of Head Start to serve 1 million children annually by 2002, and establishing the Early Head Start program which has grown to more than 500 community-based programs for children under the age of three. The President has continued this commitment to early childhood programs in his FY 2000 budget proposal by requesting an historic increase of $607 million for Head Start expansion and quality improvements, as well as $19.3 billion over five years for critically important investments in child care, including a new Early Learning Fund to provide states and communities additional resources to enhance the quality of early care and education services for our youngest and most vulnerable children.

We are encouraged to see similar efforts by states and local communities to invest in these same priorities. Since 1987, state funding for prekindergarten programs has increased from $180 million to more than $1.5 billion and state funding to expand Head Start services has increased from less than $14 million to more than $154 million. State funding of child care has also grown significantly. In order to draw down the full amount of funds available under the Child Care and Development Block Grant, states in FY 1998 appropriated $1.6 billion in maintenance of effort and matching funds, and a number of states report additional appropriations of state resources. Recent initiatives such as the commitment of $40 million over three years to expand and improve early childhood and health programs in Cuyahoga County, Ohio are further exciting evidence of continuing public commitment to support working families with young children and help all children enter school ready to learn.

The second component of federal leadership in early childhood programs is to improve program quality and hold programs accountable for results. Working hand in hand with the Congress, we have developed new performance standards and program monitoring procedures for Head Start and adopted a tougher stance in enforcing these standards, leading to replacement of more than 125 local programs. At the same time, we have made investments to improve Head Start staff training and compensation and to support other local quality improvement efforts. We are also pleased that last year the Congress made a down payment towards the President’s child care initiative by providing an increase of $183 million for much-needed quality improvements, research and evaluation efforts.

Another critically important aspect of our leadership to enhance early childhood quality is the development of outcome standards and measures for Head Start and child care programs. The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) set in motion the first national effort to identify specific outcomes for federally-funded early childhood programs, and a system to measure and track progress on these performance measures. For example, we have made rapid progress in implementing performance measures for Head Start programs, drawing on the work of the National Education Goals Panel and extensive consultation with early childhood experts, including the Department of Education. We created a comprehensive, cutting-edge system of 24 outcome measures to track progress towards our overall goal of improving the healthy development and learning readiness of young children.

Next, we set up our Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) to assess performance on these measures in a nationally-representative sample of local Head Start agencies. Initial findings from the FACES survey are already being used to pinpoint strengths and areas for needed improvements in Head Start, giving us a powerful new tool to continue to improve the effectiveness of more than 1400 local programs. For example, we can document that the quality of teaching in Head Start is good, that children are making progress in key learning areas such as vocabulary growth, and that parents are heavily involved in and highly satisfied with Head Start. FACES also allows us to track specific indicators such as the fact that two-thirds of Head Start parents read to their children at least three times per week, and the finding that Head Start programs could be doing more to increase the proportions of parents that read to their children every day. We are convinced that our success in implementing GPRA will form the foundation for continued progress in improving program quality and outcomes, as well as serve as a model for state and local efforts to upgrade all forms of early childhood programs.

In addition to these achievements in expanding and improving child care and Head Start programs, I am pleased to have the opportunity to highlight for the Subcommittee the many things that we are doing to improve coordination so that the full spectrum of early childhood programs work together for children. As we work to administer each program authorized by Congress, we seek to work with state, local, and community partners to make it easier for them to bring programs together and to use resources from different federal and state agencies to serve children and their parents with high quality, safe, affordable early care and education.

I will highlight four key areas:

  • Ensuring that funding strategies provide incentives for collaboration;
  • Ensuring that federal policy supports collaboration and correcting misinterpretations of federal rules or regulations that may be barriers to partnerships;
  • Providing technical assistance and sharing successful models of coordination; and
  • Convening federal, state and local partners to facilitate collaboration.

Ensuring that Funding Strategies Provide Incentives for Collaboration

For the past three years, the Head Start Bureau placed a priority on partnership strategies in awarding more than $340 million in program expansion funding. This policy led to providing full-day/full-year services to more than 50,000 additional children in partnership arrangements with child care and prekindergarten agencies and resources. The Head Start and Child Care Bureaus are working together to help states and communities find effective ways to combine Head Start, child care and pre-kindergarten program funds to provide high quality, full-day/full-year early childhood programs.

For instance, Child Focus, Inc. in Clermont County, Ohio uses resources from state and federal Head Start, child care, Even Start, mental health, alcohol and substance abuse to offer families a wide array of coordinated services, including early childhood education, family literacy, health care, substance abuse and violence prevention in a single center. The agency also provides on-site training for Head Start and child care staff via a partnership with the University of Cincinnati and collaborates with local child care centers and family child care homes to serve additional children and families.

Supporting Collaboration Through Federal Policies

Our second key strategy is working to ensure that Federal policies support collaboration and to identify and remove obstacles to collaboration that are based on misinterpretations of federal rules and regulations. For instance, the Child Care Bureau provided guidance to prevent unwarranted problems in auditing agencies that use funding from different federal programs, and issued a memorandum clarifying the flexibility available to states in addressing issues of defining eligibility across early childhood programs, including subsidized child care. In a similar manner, the Head Start Bureau has issued clarifications of policies on collecting fees, sharing equipment and supplies, and recruiting and enrolling children on a year-around basis to make it easier to partner with child care and pre-kindergarten providers.

We are also working in close partnerships with the 13 states that provide funding to Head Start programs. In states such as Ohio, Minnesota, and Oregon, federal and state officials are working together in funding, monitoring and providing training and technical assistance to local programs. These leadership efforts support new emerging partnerships such as the City of Chicago’s innovative strategy to link more than 150 family child care providers with Head Start resources to provide full-day, full-year Head Start and to enhance the quality of services in family child care homes across the city.

Providing Technical Assistance to Remove Barriers to Collaboration and Sharing Successful Models & Strategies

Another indicator of our sustained commitment to promoting early childhood collaboration is a new initiative by the Head Start and Child Care Bureaus to jointly fund and manage a national training and technical assistance project called "Quality in Linking Together: Early Education Partnerships" (QUILT). The QUILT will work to engage states, communities and Indian tribes in developing a strategic approach to fostering early education partnerships to maximize federal, state and local early childhood resources. The QUILT will disseminate information on successful partnership models, and provide on-site technical assistance for child care, Head Start, pre-kindergarten, and other early education providers. The QUILT will draw on the examples and lessons of a wide array of emerging collaborative models including a new effort in Denver, Colorado where Head Start and child care providers have joined with the United Way and a number of public agencies to launch the Ready to Succeed Partnership. This initiative is working to improve the quality of care through toy and resource lending libraries, parent outreach workers, teacher scholarships, professional development opportunities, and linkages to health care providers.

We are also supporting additional partnership efforts in training and technical assistance to assist Head Start and child care agencies in collaborating with Department of Education programs such as the Even Start family literacy effort and programs for infants, toddlers, and young children with disabilities. For example, in a public-private partnership with the Conrad Hilton Foundation, we are contributing to a $15 million initiative to train teams of Early Head Start, early intervention program providers, parents, and other community agencies to improve the capacity of Early Head Start programs to serve infants and toddlers with disabilities. In addition, the Head Start Bureau is launching a new $15 million technical assistance project targeted to enhancing family literacy services and partnerships between Even Start, Head Start and other early childhood programs.

ACF early childhood programs are also working together at the state and local levels to share training resources and develop more effective and inclusive career development systems for teachers of young children. States such as Kansas and Ohio have created innovative distance learning and interactive television systems to offer training to child care, public school and Head Start teachers. Local agencies such as the Macon Program for Progress Head Start in North Carolina have developed regional training sites to offer model demonstration classrooms, on-site college courses, training for the Child Development Associate credential and a variety of other services to staff from all community programs, using funding from a variety of state, federal, and higher education institutions.

Convening Federal, State and Local Partners to Facilitate Collaboration

Our fourth key strategy in building early childhood collaboration is to sponsor forums and initiatives to bring together early childhood and child care leaders and other partners to solve common problems and plan for the future. Our Head Start State Collaboration Office initiative links Head Start with state programs in child care, education, welfare, disabilities, homeless services, community service, family literacy and health. Maine’s Collaboration Office took the lead in creating a unified state proposal to use Head Start expansion funding in partnership with child care centers. In addition, it convened a coalition of Head Start and child care organizations in the Alliance for Children’s Care, Education and Supportive Services (ACCESS). With funding from the Head Start Bureau, ACCESS created 11 regional early childhood planning groups to document community needs and the current capacity of early childhood and child care programs and agencies across the state. This effort led to a comprehensive, state-wide data base with enrollment, eligibility, and waiting list information for all child care, family child care, Head Start and preschool programs and the numbers of children who are eligible but unserved in each region of the state. This data base and the convening process has led to a series of legislative proposals to expand funding for early childhood services in Maine.

In both Head Start and Child Care, collaboration efforts extend to linking with other key services for young children and their families, such as medical, dental and mental health care, nutrition, services to children with disabilities, child support, adult and family literacy, and employment training. These comprehensive services are crucial in helping families progress towards self-sufficiency and in helping parents provide a better future for their young children. For instance, the Healthy Child Care America Campaign, a partnership with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, supports collaborative efforts of health professionals, child care providers, and families to improve the health and safety of children in child care settings. In Pennsylvania, the Healthy Child Care project works with child care and Head Start programs to establish linkages with health professionals, and provide telephone advice to staff members about health and safety issues.

Head Start, Child Care Bureau and other HHS staff are also active members of the Department of Education’s Federal Interagency Coordinating Council to coordinate programs to serve young children with disabilities. These efforts reflect the long history and considerable current efforts to use community-based Head Start and child care programs as inclusive environments for young children with special needs. ACF is also actively involved with ED in joint funding of new national data bases on early childhood experiences and programs, and coordinating efforts to use common outcome measures in studies sponsored by a variety of federal agencies. For example, ACF is supplementing funding for the National Center for Education Statistics’ Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort to supplement the study’s ability to support analyses of Head Start enrollees and eligible children who are not enrolled.

Community, state and Federal efforts are paying off in partnerships that truly make a difference for children and families. The story of one family served by the Drueding Center/Project Rainbow in Philadelphia demonstrates the power of collaboration. Thelma, a recovering drug-addicted mother of five children, was separated from her family and became homeless. Two of her children were physically and cognitively delayed. Through the Drueding Center, a collaborative program receiving Federal and private funding, Thelma received temporary housing with the use of HUD funds, a child care subsidy through the Child Care and Development Block Grant, as well as job training to help her become employed. One of her children enrolled in a residential treatment center, and another participates in the Project Rainbow Head Start/child care collaborative program. With this array of support from Drueding and her own hard work, Thelma is now reunited with her children. She is a full-time student enrolled in Temple University, and is now supporting the Drueding Center as a member of it’s Board of Directors and in fund-raising activities for its many programs.

Future Directions

Recognizing the positive impact that coordinated early childhood programs have on states, communities, and most importantly, children and families, ACF seeks to build on and expand our existing coordination efforts in three ways. First, we will support collaboration and the use of outcome measurement around early childhood programs through the Early Learning Fund, which is part of the President’s Fiscal Year 2000 budget. The Early Learning Fund will, for the first time, specifically devote funding to communities to enhance the quality of care for children, with a focus on promoting school readiness for children through age five. The dollars will be distributed through states and the services under the Fund will be delivered at the local level to enable communities and parents to take action based on their assessment of what is needed and what will work best. We believe that this flexible, results-focused funding will assist States and communities in maximizing existing early childhood resources, strengthening partnerships and improving quality. Second, ACF will be convening State Administrators of child care and prekindergarten programs and Head Start leaders this fall to explore collaborative approaches to program funding, monitoring, performance outcomes, professional development and technical assistance. Third, we will begin a new effort with the Department of Education to review opportunities for further coordination in the areas of performance indicators, funding, service strategies and research.

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee today. I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

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