The YMCA of Frederick County is looking for teachers, bus drivers, teacher aides and administrators to help it run the former Frederick County Head Start program.
Head Start has been in transition since the Board of County Commissioners cut $2.3 million from its funding in March 2011, and relinquished the program to the federal government.
Jan Hall, director of grants for the YMCA of Frederick County, said the application process is open to the public, but she also expects applications from many current employees of Community Development Institute of Denver, Colo. — the federal contractor that managed the program during the transition.
When CDI first took control of the program, Head Start employees had to reapply for their positions. With program funding cut in half, CDI officials couldn’t keep salaries and benefits at the same level and some employees were forced to leave.
As the program moves to the YMCA, CDI Head Start employees would have to reapply for their positions. YMCA officials, however, don’t want employees to worry about losing their jobs, especially because they already have the specific qualifications and experience to make them eligible for rehire.
“We are interviewing all the existing CDI staff who are applying ...” Hall said. “The expectation is that most of them already have the right qualifications. If any CDI people choose not to apply, we will have to backfill that.”
Hall said the YMCA plans to keep much of the program’s existing structure, which would require having two to three educators in each of Head Start’s 16 classrooms.
“What we are trying to do now is complete this transition with as little change as possible,” she added.
The application process for the program closes June 11. Available positions and their descriptions, as well as the application for YMCA employment are available at www.frederickymca.org.
Head Start is a federal program that serves children ages 3 and 4 in families that fall below the federal poverty line, or $22,350 in income for a family of four.
Concerned about the future of the program, the YMCA of Frederick County applied to run Head Start. On May 1, the federal government granted the agency $2.2 million to run the program until April 30, 2013. Once the grant expires, YMCA officials will apply for a new five year grant.
The YMCA is expected to take control of the Head Start program on June 30, and officials at the agency have been working with CDI staff to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible, Hall said.
“The families have been notified that we are the new grantee,” she said.
CDI staff also are handling student enrollment in the program for next year, Hall said.
Once the program passes to the YMCA, it’s expected to serve 282 students in 16 Frederick County locations. That is an expansion from this year, when Head Start served 262 students in 14 locations.
For now it’s unclear if the YMCA will be able to provide centers for the program at the existing locations. However, the agency is committed to serving children in the same areas even if that means providing additional transportation, said Hall, who said the YMCA plans to release more specifics about the transition as soon as the information is available.
“It’s a gradual transition process and it is a work in progress,” she said.
Officials at CDI and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Head Start programs nationwide did not return calls for comment.