Toledo Public Schools officially agreed to take over parts of the Lucas County Head Start program Thursday night by approving an $8 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The money will allow TPS to provide Head Start programs to hundreds of preschoolers from low income families for at least the next five years.
â??Parents of preschool aged children in Toledo Public Schools can expect and will receive high quality services for their children,â?? said Dr. Amy Allen, who TPS appointed to run the Head Start program. Before taking the position Thursday, Dr. Allen was an assistant professor in early childhood and special education at the University of Toledo.
Dr. Allen and other school leaders say reaching kids early is integral in preparing them for a successful academic career, and the districtâ??s relationship with Head Start will offer TPS a unique opportunity.
Said Dr. Allen, â??The outcomes for those children are better when weâ??re able to give them high quality programming in preschool. So without a doubt, itâ??s money well spent.â??
Itâ??s a changing of the guard for Head Start in Lucas County, which was administered by the Community Development Institute this past school year. CDIâ??s headquarters are in Denver, Colorado. Last week, CDI told its 280 employees that they would be laid off. Dr. Allen told NBC 24 that employees who were laid off are welcome to apply to TPS, but said that all prospective teachers must have a four year degree in early childhood education or child development, and all assistant teachers must have a two year degree in early childhood education.
Dr. Allen says about 80 to 90 positions will be added by TPS to run their Head Start program. Some of the other $8 million from the grant will go to WSOS Community Action and the Lucas County Family Services. The two agencies will team up with TPS to administer the Lucas County Head Start program. Brightside Academy is also getting close to $5 million for Head Start, bringing the total federal investment for Head Start in Lucas County to $13 million over the next five years.
The funds will allow close to 2,000 preschoolers in Lucas County to attend Head Start programs next school year, with about 850 in Toledo Publicâ??s Head Start. But TPS superintendent Dr. Romules Durant says there are nearly 10,000 pre-k students in Lucas County, and heâ??s currently soliciting for private donors so the school district can open up the program to more kids.
Dr. Allen echoed those efforts, saying TPS is looking to grow the program even more.
â??The vision is to provide universal pre-k for Toledo Public sometime in the near future,â?? said Dr. Allen.