Publication Date

2001

Abstract

The intent of this study is to better define the cultural values of low-income families surrounding the issues of non-parental childcare and, in light of those values, to assess the practical childcare needs of Head Start’s target population. The main question addressed was: How can the services of Bennington County Head Start Plus better conform to the existing practical needs and cultural values of its target population? My research revealed the following: 1)A strong association between Head Start families and state-sponsored childcare subsidies, a connection which elucidates the continuing struggle of the poor and working poor to escape poverty (Subsidized childcare funding is essential to enable many working poor families to afford holding minimum wage jobs.), 2} An undeniable correlation between poverty and poor health which brings to light an often-unacknowledged aspect of childcare needs, adult respite and early childhood intervention for children with special needs, 3) Intergenerational cultural values relating employment to survival not to career goals, 4) A fervently held cultural preference for parental and/or kith and kin childcare, a preference which values loving, nurturing interactions between caregiver and child over many of the “quality” childcare attributes espoused in childcare research literature, 5) A vigorous statement that the two main motivations for making formal childcare arrangements within Head Start households are work demands and a desire for children to be “socialized” before entry into public schools. All of the above afford insight into new models of service delivery Head Start might provide to meet the needs of the population served.

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