Wayne Co. to be Head Start direct service provider

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Wayne County will directly provide programs designed to get children up to age 5 from low-income families prepared for school.

County Executive Warren Evans said Monday the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has given the county permission to operate as a Head Start direct care provider instead of using nonprofits and school districts.

Head Start is the free pre-kindergarten program the health and human services department offers in every state to low-income families. It typically involves full-day preschool, focusing on school readiness, healthy eating and physical activity.

“My administration is determined to make a bigger impact on the children and families in Wayne County through our new direct service Head Start model,” Evans said in a statement. “Wayne County is committed to deliver on the Head Start promise that every child can succeed.”

He said the county will offer county residents its new Pre-Birth to Five, or PB-5, program. The PB-5 program will serve the cities of Dearborn, Inkster, Taylor, Wayne and Westland.

Under the effort, the county will offer pregnant mothers and children up to 3 years old in those communities home-based and center-based care as well as Head Start programs to children ages 3 to 5. It has 503 slots available for children and Head Start classes are set to begin Sept. 6, officials said.

As a direct Head Start services provider, Evans said Wayne County will now assume the day-to-day responsibility for:

■Teachers, family service workers, home visitors and other staff who provide Head State services.

■Head Start centers and their activities, including food programs for children and adults.

■Recruiting and enrolling families in the program.

■Securing community partners to assist and support families in the Head Start program.

However, Wayne Westland Community Schools will also assist the county in providing Head Start services, the county executive said.

Previously, the program’s oversight, monitoring and planning were the responsibility of partner agencies with county support.

“We’re excited about expanding from a grantee to a direct service provider in Wayne County’s Pre-birth to Five Head Start and Early Head Start program,” said Shenetta Coleman, division director for Wayne County Juvenile and Youth Services, in a statement. “This will also allow us to work directly with the children and families we serve in Wayne County with a large focus on Early Head Start, ages 0-3.”

For information or to enroll in Wayne County Head Start programs, call (866) 534-5437.