Lessons from neighbor about Head Start

When federal officials announced this week that San Joaquin County might have to reapply to keep receiving grant money used to run the local Head Start and Early Head Start programs, it was the third time the federal Office of Head Start had designated grant recipients across the country for  “recompetition.”

Basically, it means those organizations need to reapply if they want to keep getting money for the program.

I was curious what might be in store for San Joaquin County, so I called up Contra Costa County, which was in the first round of “recompetitions,” along with Los Angeles County and numerous other places in the country.

“We were the first cohort, so we were the Guinea pigs,” said Camilla Rand, director of Contra Costa County Community Services Bureau. It was a blow to staff morale, and it was scary for parents, she said.

Re-applying for the grant was a difficult process, both large and repetitive. But it required knowing a lot about the Head Start program, which was the case for Contra Costa, she said.

When it was over, the county retained 85 percent of the grant it had been receiving before. The rest went to another applicant. And the transition did not disrupt the services received by the children, she said.

San Joaquin County officials said on Thursday they would likely call Contra Costa to learn about the neighboring county’s experience with this. Rand said she’d be happy to take that call.

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    Zachary Johnson

    Zachary Johnson has been with The Record since 2005, when he began as an intern fresh out of grad school. He stayed on at the paper and covered education for the next two years. Now he covers, among other things, San Joaquin County Government and ... Read Full
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