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5-Year Head Start Grants REINVEST in Four incumbent Agencies

FOR RELEASE AT 12:00 PM                                                                                                               

  • Ann Kalass, CEO of Starfish Family Services: (734) 713-9210
  • Dr. Willie Singleton, Executive Director of New St. Paul Head Start Agency: (313) 835-4400

5-Year Head Start Grants REINVEST in Four incumbent Agencies

Detroit, MI– The Office of Head Start (OHS) will reinvest in four local Head Start agencies previously funded through a national Birth to Five pilot. These grants will keep about $55 million annually in federal funds in Detroit over the next five years to support comprehensive services to over three thousand young children. The OHS decision to fund the current Head Start providers will help strengthen and stabilize services for vulnerable local children and leverage significant federal investments and local support for early childhood within the broader community.

The grant supports Head Start programs for children ages 3-5, and Early Head Start programs for children aged 0-3 and pregnant women. The federal government made awards to Matrix Human Services, New St. Paul Head Start Agency, Starfish Family Services, and United Children and Family Head Start. The Starfish grant includes funding for three sub-recipients that together with Starfish collaborate under the Thrive by Five Detroit banner: Development Centers, Focus: HOPE and The Order of the Fishermen Ministry Head Start Program, Inc. 

While the agencies remain the same, the services will adapt to better meet community needs. Providers have made changes such as shifting enrollment capacity between Early Head Start and Head Start, increasing full-day offerings, and boosting investments in teachers and facilities. 

The Head Start program serves children facing the highest risk factors in our community through a two-generation approach and is vital to the lives of children and the overall Detroit community, explains Dr. Willie Singleton, Executive Director of New St. Paul Head Start Agency: “Early childhood is the most critical period of development, key to breaking barriers and creating lifelong potential. Within early childhood, Head Start is a uniquely effective model due to its whole-child, comprehensive, multi-generational approach.”

In Detroit, Head Start touches more families than any other early childhood program.  Total Detroit Head Start funding, including awards announced today and other ongoing Head Start grants in the city, supports a total of nine local providers.  In total, these agencies serve approximately four thousand children and employ over a thousand workers. Providers offer educational, social, health and family support for some of the highest risk local children, and connect families to an array of partners.  “It’s a network of incredibly dedicated people making a huge positive impact on kids, families and neighborhoods,” said Brad Coulter, President and CEO of Matrix Human Services. 

Despite the importance of Head Start, there has been instability across Detroit’s entire early childhood landscape in recent years. Over the last decade, agencies faced growing challenges related to the workforce, facilities and the need for matching support from the community. As a result, providers of local Head Start programs have changed on multiple occasions, causing harmful disruptions for families and teachers, and increasing challenges for the remaining agencies. 

In response, local Head Start agencies joined together and created the Detroit Head Start Provider Network to collaborate on shared initiatives and connect resources and information.  The funder community was also critical, including the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, home to the Head Start Innovation Fund.  Community Foundation Vice President of Programs Katie Brisson sees the OHS grant as building on these investments: “We are pleased OHS invested in these agencies as a cohort. They collaborated over the last five years in a powerful way to steadily improve the system, and this renewed funding allows for that process to continue.”

The consistency of providers is also vital to children and families in Detroit. As United Children and Family Head Start Executive Director Roxanne Campbell explained: “Parents are best served when they can continue to use the same Head Start programs, the same locations and the same teachers. That’s why the continuity of these grants is so important.” 

Today, Detroit Head Start teams are excited for the future. Starfish Family Services CEO Ann Kalass stated: “This is a great day for Detroit children!  Across the city, we see a continued investment in the early childhood system and in programs that we know work for kids. Head Start is at the top of that list, building relationships with families and providing high-quality and trusted programs for children.”   
Parents interested in connecting with local Head Start providers can visit to learn more about the program, find centers near them and apply online. Agencies are enrolling now at centers across the city.

About the Detroit Head Start Provider Network:  Founded in 2018, The Detroit Head Start Provider Network is a coalition of the nine agencies providing Head Start and Early Head Start services in Detroit. The group works to improve services to local Head Start children and families through regular meetings, collaborative initiatives and shared connections to information, partners, and data.  Members are: American Indian Health & Family Services, Development Centers, Focus: HOPE, Matrix Human Services, New St. Paul Head Start Agency, Renaissance Head Start, Starfish Family Services, The Order of the Fishermen Ministry Head Start Program, Inc., and United Children and Family Head Start.