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Mel Gravely

2019 Year in Review

head start training

2019 is not just the end of a year, but the end of a decade. What a decade it was! It all started in January 2010 with the release of the Head Start Impact study final report. A monumental, and sometimes controversial, report that found agencies across the country fielding questions from reporters: Has it all been worth it? (We know it has.)

We’ve seen a lot of changes in Head Start during those ten years, from the touch and go months of sequestration, to the effects of recompetition, to the completely overhauled performance standards. It was a decade of ups and downs for sure. But as it has before, Head Start was able to handle whatever was thrown at it, and come out stronger than ever.

A Year of Results

Many of the initiatives announced over the past decade began to show promising results in 2019. In February of this year, the New York Times reported that recompetition, along with other factors, is helping to increase Head Start quality.

“The share of classrooms ranked good or excellent has risen more than fourfold,” the Times wrote, adding, “The share of programs above a three — minimally acceptable — rose to 25 percent, from 4 percent.”

Other factors have contributed to these gains as well. After sequestration was over, funding rose 18% per child in the last 5 years. And because of requirements in the new performance standards, more Head Start teachers are holding bachelor’s degrees (up 73 percent, from 47 percent a decade ago.)

Parent Engagement Still Key

Parent engagement continues to be important now, and will be important till the end. The new performance standards showed a renewed focus on parent engagement, and we saw lots of strides in this area in 2019.

This year we talked about using homework assignments as a means to drive parent engagement, reasons to avoid “shop talk,” and how to effectively communicate with parents. We even talked about the importance of bus drivers in your overall parent engagement strategy.

A Focus on Fatherhood

We also focused a lot on fatherhood this year, asking pointedly in March: “What is your plan to engage fathers in Head Start?” We talked about strategies to engage fathers in “Using Community Partnerships to Engace Father Engagement,” as well as talked about the importance of fatherhood in general to a child’s life in “Ying to the Yang: How Fatherhood Compliments Motherhood for a Happy, Healthy Childhood.”

News from The Gravely Group

As for The Gravely Group, we saw great success with our online trainings. Our free webinar series was a hit, with a lot of great questions and feedback. We wrote several blogs based on questions that came out of these webinar sessions, including:

And our first ever ERSEA Leadership Skills online workshop, held in November, was very well received. We’re looking forward to making more online workshops a regular addition to our offerings in 2020.

Other Head Start News in 2019

Of course, we always want to keep you up-to-date with the latest program instructions from OHS, as well as giving tips and tricks for managing your program throughout the year. Here are some of the other stories we released in 2019.

How will you remember the past year or the past decade? How do you think Head Start might change in the next decade to come? What ways do you personally see your agency growing and changing? We always welcome your feedback!


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