The Association of Community College Trustees and the National Head Start Association are partnering to bring more Head Start centers to community college campuses.
Fewer than 100 of the more than 1,400 community and technical colleges in the country have Head Start centers on campus. Meanwhile, Head Start programs are struggling to enroll children, with up to 180,000 childcare and early learning slots unfilled, according to a press release from the partners.
The organizations plan to match campuses with Head Start providers. Community colleges will allow Head Start centers to operate on campuses rent-free. The centers will provide college students who have children free childcare and educational programming, and students studying early childhood education can work at the centers, as well.
“Almost half of postsecondary students with children attend community colleges,” Jee Hang Lee, president and CEO of the Association of Community College Trustees, said in the release. “Abundant evidence shows that child care is a primary barrier that keeps too many community college students from persisting and completing their education.”
The initiative is funded by a planning grant from the ECMC Foundation, which is focused on improving higher education for underserved students, and the Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation, a family foundation dedicated to equitable access to public services.
“Adding free Head Start slots at community college campuses sustainably addresses funding gaps in both early childhood and higher education,” Abigail Seldin, CEO of the Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation, said in the release.