They say that change is the only constant. Just think back to 2014, the beginning of our five-year Head Start grant cycle.
We hadn’t yet heard of the water crisis unfolding in Flint, Michigan, or of ISIS terrorizing the Middle East. The Winter Olympics just finished in Russia. It was the year of the “ice bucket challenge.” And the LA Kings defeated the NY Rangers to grab the Stanley Cup. In these few short years, our own communities have been undergoing massive transformation. The homeless population continues to increase, gentrification is more widespread, and decent housing is becoming unaffordable, as the birth rate declines and the cost of living rises.
Hard to believe we’re already well into 2018 and the end of the program year is quickly approaching. But here we are. As we look to the next five-year cycle that starts in 2019, we need to recognize the changes that have already affected our communities. We must consider the changes that may lie ahead and determine how best to serve the changing needs of our babies and families.
Our communities and their needs are not the same as they were five years ago, and they won’t be the same five years from now. We must adapt. Over this grant cycle, we’ve increased Early Head Start slots by 62%, decreased Head Start by 16%, and added Child Care Partnerships. Think about what we may need going forward. Where will we add? Where will we cut? What new areas might need Head Start? Do others no longer need us? How do we serve our babies best?
Even as we scan the horizon, we can’t overlook what’s right in front of our faces. We have a responsibility to do our best for the babies in our care every day. Please don’t ever let your guard down on care and supervision. This can also trigger recompetition, endangering the services our babies need. These families depend on us; we can’t let them down. That never changes.