Early Head Start/Head Start American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act grant recipients are facing challenges regarding how to spend down ARP funding by March 31, 2023. While initial funds were a critical lifeline to child care programs during the worst of the pandemic, there's still plenty that can be done to create stability in programs for the long-term; grant recipients know the importance of building workplace environments that are safe, equitable, trustworthy, and that support healing.
My experience with Office of Head Start programs began in 2015 as an Early Childhood Mental Health consultant. I learned in that role just how vital it is for Early Childhood programs to provide quality early childhood services that promote school readiness, encourage family and community engagement, and – most importantly – build resilience in families, children, and staff.
Head Start agencies across the U.S. are increasingly focused on the prevalence of childhood adversity and trauma impacting the children and families they serve. Many agencies have leveraged Federal Head Start Quality Improvement funds (and continue to do so) to both implement and evaluate trauma-informed care (TIC) initiatives.
In recent years, trauma-informed care has become the standard of care in behavioral health, residential treatment, healthcare and K-12 school systems. Now early childhood programs are increasingly becoming trauma-informed in their work with young children and families. As with trauma-informed care in general, there is so much information available on the internet that it can be difficult knowing where to start.
Head Start and Early Head Start continue to lead the way in promoting school readiness and family engagement for vulnerable young children. It’s no surprise, then, that Head Start is increasingly focused on implementing trauma-informed care as highlighted in its Guidance to Implementing Trauma-Informed Care brief, noting that: