Putting It Together means combining all elements of enrollment – selection/prioritization, available slots, documentation/records, transportation, attendance, and transitions – into one comprehensive enrollment plan. Each program needs a plan to ensure that children experiencing homelessness are enrolled in Early Head Start or Head Start and that their families receive the support and services they need.
Four-year-old Tanya, her older brother Ezra, and their mother and father all live at Tanya's grandmother's house. They are staying there because both parents lost their jobs and could no longer afford their apartment. The parents are hoping to get new jobs and save enough money to get their own place again. Ezra goes to the local elementary school and the homeless liaison learned that he has a younger sister who might be eligible for Head Start. The homeless liaison notified the Sycamore Head Start program, which is close to where the family lives, about Tanya.
Sycamore Head Start's enrollment plan includes the six elements of enrollment:
Think about what might be in Sycamore Head Start's enrollment plan to best serve Tanya and then read the brief analysis.
Sycamore Head Start recently revised its selection form to include a section on risk factors. Based on the McKinney-Vento Act, families experiencing homelessness must be given priority, so homelessness is included in the risk factors section. When a risk factor in this section is checked, the form goes to the top of the pile and becomes a priority. Because the homeless liaison from Ezra's school notified Sycamore Head Start about Tanya, they know that Tanya's selection form will include a risk factor and she will be eligible to be enrolled immediately.
Sycamore Head Start does not often encounter families in homeless situations. Although they operate both a center-based and home-based program option, they do not currently have a slot for Tanya. They will begin providing services to the family immediately and Tanya will be put at the top of the waiting list. In the meantime, they will explore the option of arranging transportation to another Head Start program that does have a slot. While waiting for a slot to become available in their program, Sycamore Head Start will discuss with the family the currently available options for Tanya.
Sycamore Head Start will provide services for Tanya's family immediately while they begin to collect the required documentation/records for Tanya. They will check with the family and assist them in obtaining what is needed. One of the available options for Tanya is to attend another program until a slot becomes available in the Sycamore Head Start. The other program is some distance away and requires transportation. The Sycamore Head Start's enrollment plan includes several strategies for providing transportation, including using special funds for transportation and coordinating with special education programs. Since Tanya's brother is in the local elementary school, the Sycamore Head Start also will work with the homeless liaison there to learn about possible options.
Although Sycamore Head Start does not have an immediate slot for Tanya, she will be able to move to the program once a slot becomes available. She will be placed with a very experienced teacher who has worked with children in crisis situations before. The program also will pay special attention to Tanya's attendance record and follow up immediately when she is absent.
The program will follow the strategies included in its enrollment plan when it's time for Tanya to transition. With the family's approval, Tanya will transition into the Sycamore Head Start program and will continue to receive support to maintain continuity of services. Some of the strategies that Sycamore Head Start may use with Tanya and her family include the following:
Engaging in further discussions to determine the necessary support and services;
Allowing Tanya to visit Sycamore Head Start and spend some time there before she transitions;
Giving Tanya a welcome gift such as a backpack or supplies;
Identifying a buddy for Tanya;
Making sure that Tanya has a class job;
Encouraging Tanya to participate in class activities; and
Supplying Tanya her own cubby in which to keep her things.
Putting It Together: Explore Information
Before you assimilate all the elements of your own enrollment plan, do the following:
Review and address all elements of the enrollment plan including selection/prioritization, available slots, documentation/records, transportation, attendance, and transitions.
Review the information in the links below.
Discuss with a colleague how the information might apply to your enrollment plan.
Before putting your enrollment plan together, reflect on each element of the plan: selection/prioritization, available slots, documentation/records, transportation, attendance, and transitions. To guide you in putting all the elements of your enrollment plan together, do the following:
Use the checklist below;
Review the ideas from the checklists for the other elements of enrollment; and
Ensure that your plan addresses families experiencing homelessness.
For more information, select the Tell me more links.
I have reviewed all the elements of my enrollment plan. Tell me more
I have reviewed all the elements of my enrollment plan
Consider the following questions:
Did you notice how Sycamore Head Start addressed each element of the enrollment process?
Are there enrollment strategies that Sycamore Head Start used that you can include in your own plan? Which strategies?
Are there enrollment strategies that Sycamore Head Start used that will not work in your own plan? Which strategies? Why won't they work?
What kind of enrollment strategies will work in your program?
I have put the elements of my enrollment plan together and ensured that it supports families experiencing homelessness. Tell me more
I have put the elements of my enrollment plan together
Consider the following questions:
Is each element of your enrollment plan complete?
Do the elements of your enrollment plan work together as a complete plan? Do any parts need to be modified?
Does your plan ensure that families experiencing homelessness will receive services and be supported?
Do you need to change any of your existing enrollment strategies to take into account families experiencing homelessness? How should you change them?
I am ready to put my enrollment plan into action. Tell me more
I am ready to put my enrollment plan into action
Consider the following questions:
Does your plan include a system for review and update?
Have you tried out your plan to make sure it works the way you want?