Feds award millions to continue preschool programs

The Community Council of Idaho earned a $7.6 million grant to continue providing preschool services to migrant and seasonal farm-working families at the agency’s 10 Head Start centers throughout Idaho.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the one-year grant. CC Idaho expects it will be renewed each year until April 2020.

Idaho has received federal Head Start funding since 1971, but this year’s funding format was changed from an application to a competitive process. CC Idaho had to compete against other organizations. The funding news came as a victory — and a relief.

“We could have lost, so, my goodness, yes, this is good news,” CC Idaho communications director Rebecca De Leon said.

The Office of Head Start determined that CC Idaho successfully demonstrated the qualifications and experience to provide preschool services. The scoring system incorporated several criteria:

  • A demonstrated need for child development and health services.
  • Early learning and development outcomes that promote school readiness.
  • Past performance.
  • Staffing and supporting a strong early learning work force.
  • Organizational capacity and governance.
  • Budget and budget justification.

CC Idaho operates the largest Head Start program in the state, serving 797 children. Of those, 534 are children of migrant farm-working families and 263 are children of seasonal farm-working families.

Idaho’s program provides full-day, bilingual education, health and nutrition services, and disability services to children from birth to 5 years old at no charge to the family.

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“We are proud to have earned this grant and look forward to continuing these necessary services,” De Leon said.

CC Idaho does not follow graduates of the Head Start program but has performance standards for children in Head Start, De Leon said.

The Community Council of Idaho Inc. is a rural-centered, multi-service nonprofit organization in Idaho. It provides 10 Head Start centers, five housing projects, five employment and training centers and three community health care clinics.