MEMO DATE: April 25, 2023
Update from Starfish Family Services about Head Start and our relationship with Development Centers.
Starfish Family Services (Starfish) is providing this update and information to the Starfish and Development Centers (DC) communities to help employees and families have clear, factual, and accessible information. We will continue to provide updates as things evolve. Starfish is aware that many families and employees have also received information from Development Centers.
Starfish has been a grantee of the federal government offering Early Head Start and Head Start services in Wayne County since the 1990s. As a federal partner, you can either (1) provide Head Start services directly or (2) you can subcontract with another organization to run the program and classrooms. For more than 10 years, Development Centers has been a sub-recipient of Starfish, providing Early Head Start and Head Start programming directly to families. Starfish additionally directly provides Early Head Start and Head Start services at 13 locations in Detroit and Western Wayne County.
Recently, Starfish decided to run more of its programs directly, as it recognizes the enhanced value for both families and employees in the locations already operating in this way. The health and safety of families is paramount in all decisions. In making this consideration, Starfish’s goals are (and will continue to be) finding ways to reinvest resources into programming, families, and employees — including:
- Expanding specialized support services for families (i.e.: occupational therapy, mental health professionals available in schools).
- Providing competitive pay for teachers and classroom professionals and expanding benefits.
- Advancing training and coaching for early childhood education professionals.
- Committing to consistent, high-quality care, and avoiding risk.
- Ensuring that buildings are welcoming, modernized, and safe.
- Providing unwavering stability in a time of change – particularly given pending leadership and management changes for Development Centers.
- Focusing on a healing-centered model, following the trauma and impact of the pandemic.
To achieve the goals listed above, and with careful consideration for the impacts of change, Starfish determined it is best to directly lead and run the Early Head Start and Head Start programming currently subcontracted to Development Centers.
There are 322 Early Head Start and Head Start student spaces in NW Detroit currently with Development Centers. No matter what – these spaces and opportunities for learning and care – will remain in Detroit. Children will not miss the chance to learn and have a great start in school. Starfish simply won’t let it happen.
Development Centers shared that they will appeal the decision made by Starfish. The appeal process is clearly outlined in our contract agreement and will be completed by May 17th. Until then, no decision is final. Regardless of the outcome – people will have a space and a place – to call home. Families and staff engaged with Starfish will have support, resources, and a commitment to exceptional early childhood education and employment.
Starfish is providing the general information below to address questions that are coming up as it relates to the potential operation of the program by Starfish directly. We hope to ease any concerns and provide clear answers. However, again, nothing is determined until the appeal process ends.
If Starfish directly manages the Early Head Start and Head Start spaces and programming:
1) What will happen to existing Early Head Start and Head Start program positions?
Starfish is hopeful to hire teachers and program professionals that are connected to Early Head Start and Head Start to provide high quality care and programming.
2) Where will my children go to class and where will programs be located?
Starfish is hopeful to embed Early Head Start and Head Start programming and classrooms into the same communities where services are currently provided. Employees, children, and families will have the opportunity to remain at a location, or in an area, where they are familiar. This will require teamwork to achieve, and Starfish is committed to working together with Development Centers.
3) What will happen to families currently being served directly by Development Centers?
All children and families currently being served by DC will have the opportunity to smoothly changeover to Starfish for Early Head Start and Head Start programming. Starfish will host a series of virtual and in-person open houses and meetings so that any questions can be addressed, and positive relationships can be formed.
4) When will this change happen?
Starfish has a target to complete this process in advance of the start of the 2023/2024 school year and be ready to fully welcome students and their families in the fall of 2023. There will be no changes through the rest of the current (2022/2023) school year. Starfish will work with families directly to transition existing enrollments and ensure that there is minimal disruption.