SPOKANE, Wash. — A new initiative designed to create an outcome-driven model for Spokane Head Start programs has received $800,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. The project will be managed by a partnership between researchers at Washington State University Spokane and the Spokane Head Start program administered by the Community Colleges of Spokane.

The Spokane Head Start Outcomes Initiative will create a model of how Head Start programs can use child outcomes to guide program development. Christopher Blodgett, director of child and family research studies at WSU Spokane, said “the goal is to assure that Head Start programs have the best, valid information about what helps children as the basis for program improvement.”

The Spokane program is one of only five funded nationally. The five pilot projects will provide information that will guide more than 2,400 Head Start programs nationwide.

“CCS and WSU have worked together in this area in the past, but what this grant does is to formalize the process to develop really solid outcomes that we expect children to attain in readying them for school,” said Dan Bly, program manager, Early Head Start. “It also will help us in revising and developing new curriculum.”

The partnership will develop the assessment tools, information systems, and staff development activities needed to make outcome information useful in program planning. Staff from Head Start and faculty from WSU Spokane will be partners in developing the research to test these activities and to create the training and print resources needed by other Head Start programs to adopt the new strategies.

The project seeks to develop a “learning community” that establishes an ongoing relationship between early childhood practitioners and WSU university programs in early childhood education. The grant will establish “Head Start Scholars,” a program involving Head Start staff working with university faculty. Their purpose is to develop professional training and translate what is learned in information systems and staff training into practical and accessible training papers and materials for practitioners.

Story contacts:
Christopher Blodgett, Child & Family Research, WSU Spokane, (509) 358-7679, blodgett@wsu.edu
Dr. Brenda Boyd, Department of Human Development, WSU Pullman, (509) 335-7898, boydb@mail.wsu.edu
Dr. Tom Power, Department of Human Development, WSU Pullman, (509) 335-9540, tompower@wsu.edu
Daniel Bly, Head Start/ECEAP/Early Head Start, CCS (509) 533-4867, dbly@iel.spokane.cc.wa.us
Terri Schibel, Head Start/ECEAP/Early Head Start, CCS (509) 533-8542, tschibel@iel.spokane.cc.wa.us