A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
Read With Me - September 1997
The Head Start Program
Head Start, launched as an eight-week summer program in 1965, was designed to break the cycle of poverty by providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional, and psychological needs. Currently run by the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services, Head Start now serves over 751,000 children and their families each year in urban and rural areas of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Territories.
There are currently four components of Head Start:
- Education--Head Start's educational program is designed to meet each child's individual needs, with attention to the community's ethnic and cultural characteristics. Every child also receives a variety of learning experiences to foster intellectual, social, and emotional growth. Children are encouraged to express their feelings and to get along well with others. Head Start offers low child-staff ratios and gives staff members training in child development, early childhood education, and in working with disabled children.
- Health--Head Start emphasizes the importance of early identification of health problems and arranges for every child to receive, if needed, comprehensive health are including medical, dental, mental health, and nutritional services.
- Parent Involvement--Parents are the most important influences on a child's development. An essential part of every Head Start program is the involvement of parents in parent education, program planning, and other operating activities. Many parents also serve as Head Start volunteers and are given preference for employment in Head Start jobs for which they are qualified.
- Social Services--This component represents an organized method of assisting families to assess their needs, and then providing those services that will build on each family's individual strengths. Some of these activities are: community outreach, referrals, community resource information, emergency assistance, and crisis intervention.
For more information about volunteer opportunities contact the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families at the Health and Human Services regional office nearest you:
CT, MA, ME, RI, VT call (617) 565-2482
NJ, NY, PR, VI call (212) 264-2974
DC, DE, MD, PA, VA, WV call (215) 596-1224
AR, LA, NM, OK, TX call (214)767-9648
AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN call (404) 331-2398
IA, KS, MO, NE call (816) 426-5401
IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI call (312) 353-8322
CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WY call (303) 844-3106
AZ, CA, HI, NV, Pacific Insular Areas call (415) 556-7408
AK, ID, OR, WA call (206) 615-2557
The Even Start Program
The purpose of Even Start is to help break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy by improving the educational opportunities of the nation's low-income families through the integration of early childhood education, adult literacy, including adult basic education or English as a second language, and parenting education into a unified family literacy program. Even Start is implemented through cooperative projects that build on existing community resources to create a new range of services designed to help families become full partners in the education of young children.
While smaller than Head Start, Even Start greatly appreciates student volunteers. For more information on Even Start family literacy programs in your area, get in touch with your state Department of Education or contact Patricia McKee at the U.S. Department of Education. She can be reached at (202) 260-0991.
The America Reads Challenge
The America Reads Challenge is an initiative that calls on all Americans-parents, educators, librarians, religious leaders, university officials, college students, members of the media, community activists, business leaders, and senior citizens--to support teachers and help ensure that every American child can read well and independently by the end of the third grade. The America Reads Challenge builds on groundwork being laid by classroom teachers, librarians and reading specialists by drawing upon the invigorating spirit of community volunteers in tutoring and mentoring. One way the America Reads Challenge operates is through Federal Work Study expansion. To fulfill his challenge, President Clinton has proposed that 100,000 Federal Work-Study (FWS) students serve as reading tutors. To help institutions with this initiative, the Secretary of Education has waived the employer matching requirement for FWS students tutoring pre-school and elementary school children.
Other features of the Federal Work Study portion of the America Reads Challenge include:
- Reach One Million Federal Work Study (FWS) Participants: In 1996, FWS funding was $617 million and went to 713,000 students. In 1997, FWS received a 35 percent increase and will reach some 945,000 students--a major step toward the President's State of the Union promise of 1 million students earning their way through college under the FWS program by the year 2000. The 1997 appropriation is the largest annual dollar increase in the history of the FWS program.
- Opportunities in Community Service: This increase opens up significant opportunities for participating institutions to employ more of their students in community service jobs. The Secretary encourages institutions to use a portion of their fiscal year 1997 FWS increase for community service. (Existing regulations require institutions to use at least 5 percent of their total FWS allocation for community service).
- America Reads Commitment: Institutions that wish to participate in the America Reads Challenge are asked to commit a significant number of their new FWS positions for 1997-98 as reading tutors. As of August 1, more than 630 colleges and universities have joined this initiative.
- Waiver in Matching Requirements for Reading Tutors: Generally, the federal government provides up to 75 percent of FWS wages, while employers contribute at least a 25 percent match. Effective for the 1997-98 award year, the Secretary has waived the matching requirement for students serving as reading tutors to preschool and elementary school children. This 100 percent federal funding of FWS reading tutors facilitates the participation of postsecondary institutions in the America Reads Challenge.
For more information contact the America Reads Challenge at 1-800-USA-LEARN or visit their homepage at http://www.ed.gov/inits/americareads/.
[Making Connections: How Children Learn]