A Promising Partnership: Connecting Head Start Centers with Community Colleges

Posted by Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity on June 27, 2023

In this Spotlight Exclusive, we speak with Abigail Seldin, CEO of the Seldin/Haring Smith Foundation (SHSF), about connecting Head Start Centers with community colleges. Research shows that more than one in five college students are parents, yet 180,000 Head Start slots remain unfilled and only 100 Head Start facilities are available on community college campuses. SHFS has forged a partnership with the National Head Start Association (NHSA), and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) with the common goal of matching schools with Head Start operators. “If this project is successful, we will see college students enrolling their children in free preschool that’s co-located with their own in-person classes,” Seldin says.

At present, there are 16,000 Head Start locations and 3,600 community and technical college locations in the United States with little overlap. Pending fundraising, the NHSA and ACCT have plans to screen, match and support all initiatives to implement the project in 2024. Beyond that, “[m]y broader vision is that community college students should be able to access the full American social Safety net on campus,” Seldin says. “Aligning these resources would address both the national shortage of skilled workers and enable economic mobility for struggling families.”

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