Groups Eye Job To Lead Head Start

7 Agencies Express Interest In Taking Over Program For Children

Applications Due Today

Panel Will Review Contenders, Award Contract In June

April 21, 1997|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

As many as seven agencies have expressed interest in running Head Start programs in Carroll County. A federal Head Start official said one will be chosen by the first week in June to give time for a transition from the current provider, Carroll County schools.

Agencies that have contacted the county school system are: Human Services Programs Inc. of Carroll County; Western Maryland Child Care Resource Center, which runs Washington County Head Start programs; Telamon Corp. in Salisbury; YMCA of Central Maryland, which runs numerous Head Start programs in the Baltimore area; First Magnitude International of Baltimore; Sheppard Pratt Health Care of Towson; and Catholic Charities of Baltimore.

Once the applications are in by today's deadline, regional Head Start officials in Philadelphia will convene an independent panel to score them against a list of criteria.

The highest score wins the contract, said David Lett, acting regional administrator for the Administration for Children and Families, which runs Head Start nationwide and is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"It's a very objective process," Lett said. The experts on the panel are not government employees, he said, but people with experience in child development, social service, parent involvement and management. The members would be from throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

Although Carroll County has a Head Start Policy Council made up of parents who have children in the program, the council will not be an official part of scoring and selection. However, Lett said those parents could have commented on each application if applicants had made presentations to the council.

Parents' concerns

Sue Michau, a Woodbine parent who is a member of the policy council, said one agency has made a presentation to the group.

"Our position has been we won't endorse any particular applicant unless we can hear what each one has to offer," she said.

Michau and other parents have said their main concern is that the program continue seamlessly and that the quality be maintained.

Lett said that will be his administration's priority also. "We want no break in service," Lett said. "Hopefully, the Head Start program won't miss a beat,"

Michau and other parents were dismayed when the Carroll County school system announced this winter that it was giving up the contract. School officials said the program's very specific requirements and intense focus on social services and parents were difficult for them to carry out. The program was a drain on administrators who had other duties, such as special education and other early-childhood programs.

School staff have been asked to send all applicants information they could use to make their pitches.

For example, staff have sent information on bus contractors, a map of the county, an inventory of classroom materials and furniture that would be provided to the new agency, and a list of services the schools will provide for special education students.

Program's philosophy

Head Start is a federally funded program that serves children from low-income families and children who are disabled. The philosophy of the program is to give these children a nursery school experience to put them on even footing with more affluent children when they start kindergarten together.

Pub Date: 4/21/97

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