Singer: Head Start catching up

By Alastair Lee Bitsoi
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, Dec. 19, 2013

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The 2010 deficiencies and citations threatening the future of the multimillion Navajo Head Start program have all been addressed, according to Sharon Singer, assistant superintendent for Navajo Head Start.

It's timely for Singer and officials from Navajo Head Start, given the anticipated visit by the Federal Office of Head Start on or by Jan. 16 to determine whether those deficiencies and citations have, in fact, been fixed.

In an interview with the Navajo Times on Tuesday, Singer reported that she's confident Navajo Head Start, or NHS, will pass the Tribal Designated Renewal System, a designation it received in October 2012 for not being compliant with federal OHS standards.

"We are very confident we're going to pass the federal review," Singer said. "This will determine the Navajo Nation's fate."

When the federal officials visit next month to conduct the DRS review, they will essentially determine whether the tribe will continue to serve as the recipient or grantee of funds that serve approximately 2,000 Navajo infants, toddlers and pre-school-aged children. Navajo Head Start has been granted $23 million for fiscal year 2014 to serve 2,105 enrolled students.

The DRS process is initiated when a Head Start program has deficiencies in one of the seven areas outlined by the federal law. NHS violated four of those seven areas. They include one or more deficiencies in delivering services in performance standards, no established program goals for improving school readiness for preschool children, the failure to achieve school readiness by using assessments and data to evaluate children, and failure to use a classroom observation measurement to see if classrooms are age-appropriate settings.

Nationally, the goal of Head Start is to prepare children for kindergarten - developmentally and academically, pursuant to the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007.

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