Nathan Barker, 2, and his brother Melvin, Jr., 4, center, keep close to their mother, Lisa, as she fills out forms during the recruitment fair for Toledo Public Schools’ preschool program at the former DeVilbiss High School.
A local collaborative that was recently awarded a federal Head Start grant began a student recruitment drive Monday.
Dozens of parents, children, and Head Start service providers milled about the former DeVilbiss High School, 3301 Upton Ave., either pitching their services or signing up for the program.
A Toledo Public Schools-led community collaborative was awarded last month a five-year grant worth $8.1 million annually to serve 1,126 children. The group, which includes delegates WSOS Community Action Agency and the Lucas County Family Council, along with a string of partner agencies, will take over the early-childhood education program this fall.
“Our intention is to have full enrollment on day one,” said Amy Allen, who heads early childhood and special education for TPS.
The federal grant has switched hands several times in recent years. The local program was one of dozens put up for competition in 2011 for the first time. Community Development Institute of Denver was given the grant on an interim basis during the bidding process.
The TPS group is sharing the $13 million grant with Pittsburgh-based Brightside Academy. The local grant is now part of a national pilot initiative, expanding Head Start program to offer services for children from birth through age 5.
Students already enrolled through CDI will be transferred to the new providers. Ms. Allen said the collaborative hopes to enroll an additional 350 to 400 children during the summer recruitment period.
Tameka Clark of North Toledo has six kids, but has only enrolled two in Head Start over the years. She stopped after what she considered a bad experience when it was run by EOPA.
“I didn't like their program, so I never sent them again,” she said.
Jadyn McIntosh, 10, left, picks out a book from the book fair, manned by TPS intervention specialist Maudlin Banton, during the first Recruitment Fair at the old DeVilbiss High School in West Toledo.
But with a new provider, Ms. Clark decided to give the program another chance, and was enrolling a daughter Monday into Head Start.
Head Start locations aren't solidified yet. Ms. Allen said TPS will have classes at four elementary schools, existing preschool sites, and the former Summit Street YMCA building. WSOS will provide services in the Washington Local and Springfield school districts. Students who qualify for the program but live in other Lucas County suburbs can still enroll.
The collaborative is also working with about a half-dozen private child-care providers that will accept Head Start students. And the Family Council will provide prenatal and Early Head Start services for 92 children.
The recruitment drive runs through Thursday. It will be between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Parents or guardians need to bring their child's birth certificate, three proofs of residency, a photo ID, income verification, insurance information, and custody papers if necessary.