Head Start & Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP)
Our Head Start and Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) classes offered comprehensive, high-quality preschool education to 561 children in 2010 and support services to their families.
Through long-term partnerships, we were able to offer programming in four locations throughout the Kent School District (KSD). We have eight classrooms located in the Kent Family Center (on King County Housing Authority property), two classes offered at Panther Lake Community Church, and two classes within Kent Lutheran and Holy Spirit Churches in downtown Kent. Based on the selection criteria, we enroll families that require intensive services and are in the greatest need.
As a best practices program, our annual outcomes over the last several years has shown that all subgroups of children in our programs gained language, literacy, math, cognitive, and emotional skills. The program’s rate of success is 98%, based on the indicators of “children demonstrate age-appropriate language skills, children exhibit age-appropriate behavior and social skills, and children are able to engage in structured learning and play time. This success is important because these skills provide an essential foundation for interpersonal relationships, learning, and school success in future years. The in-depth analysis of those children who didn't meet the desired achievement criteria indicates that although all children increased in their skill development, some of the children, especially children with an IEP and the Burmese children, who started off the year with no English skills and limited formal play opportunities, did not gain these skills at the same rate or level of the other children. This may have been compounded by being a fairly new population to the area and the limited language support available in the community and therefore, to the program.
A time of change — In 1998, due to the passage of a levy limiting class sizes, the Kent School District no longer had space to offer the Head Start and ECEAP classes. Kent Youth & Family Services staff and board determined that due to the high community need for these services and the strong alignment the programs have with the agency’s mission we would coordinate the services of four ECEAP classes in two sites: Panther Lake Community Church and Kent Lutheran Church, serving a total of 72 children. Children’s Home Society took on the coordination of the Head Start program. The following year we were asked to manage the two Head Start classes in the Springwood Public Housing site, serving a total of 108 children. In 2000, CHS was no longer able to manage the Head Start program and KYFS was asked to take on the additional four classes, serving a total of 180 children. Without a site to house the program, we contracted with Holy Spirit Catholic Church to lease three of their classrooms in their education building with only a month to complete the needed remodeling in order to open classes on time. During this time a partnership with King County Housing Authority, Puget Sound ESD, Kent Youth & Family Services, and Center for Career Alternatives started, called Building Better Futures, in order to build a facility to offer these and other social service programs on the Kent East Hill. In 2001, with the need for additional full-day, childcare services in the Kent area we spent a summer preparing the Holy Spirit site to meet the licensing requirements and opened a full-day classroom adding 18 more children to our program. With the changes in the reimbursement system by the State, as a non-profit, KYFS could no longer provide full-day services that were not being fully funded, so after eighteen months, KYFS gave up the full day program. In 2002 KYFS continued to manage the four ECEAP classes and four Head Start classes, with the Head Start program changing their class size from 18 to 19 students. The ground breaking for the Kent Family Center began 2004 in the King County Public Housing Community of Springwood with the opening planned for the 2005 school year. With construction delays due to materials being diverted to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, the building was not ready for occupancy until late in the school year. Since the children had been a part of the building process and were excited to be in the new building, in May 2005 we moved into the new facility and opened up for the last month of the school year. In 2009, we received additional State funding to offer two new ECEAP classes, so we partnered again with Holy Spirit Catholic Church to house these services, serving 123 students. In 2010, we received additional State funding to offer another ECEAP classroom of 18 children, housed at the Kent Family Center. Kent Youth & Family Services ended the year in 2010 coordinating seven ECEAP and seven Head Start classes in four sites throughout Kent, serving a total of 159 children and families in our preschool programs. With the critical shortage of preschool services for low-income families and a 250 children on our waitlist in 2010 our growth may not be over yet.