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NYCPS Head Start Programs Excel in Federal Review, Signifying Major Advancements in Early Childhood Education

  • Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2023

Independent Federal Review Validates Strength and Progress of NYCPS's Head Start Programs Under Leadership of Chancellor Banks and Deputy Chancellor Ahmed

NEW YORK - New York City Public Schools (NYCPS) is excited to announce that our Head Start programs for thousands of children, whose families' income is below the poverty guidelines, under five have received a positive review from an independent federal monitoring review. This mandatory process for grant recipients confirms that our Head Start programs are effective, secure, and progressing well.  
The 2023 Head Start independent review highlights the notable advancements made under Chancellor David C. Banks and Deputy Chancellor of Early Childhood Education Dr. Kara H. Ahmed. The Division of Early Childhood Education (DECE) staff and our Head Start partners focused on preparing for this review, ensuring the continued success and sustainability of this critical program for New York City's children and families.  
“As a child who attended a Head Start program, I am intimately familiar with the importance of such programming for families across New York City,” said Chancellor David C. Banks. “I am very thankful for the leadership of Deputy Chancellor Dr. Ahmed for elevating our school system’s Head Start programming and modeling the way for New York City and beyond.”  
The report acknowledges that Chancellor Banks' administration met most of the set expectations, demonstrating the effectiveness of the current systems and structures. Key achievements include effective teaching methods, a focus on family well-being, and a robust shared governance system that features a parent-led policy council and a governing board with diverse experts. This system features a parent-led policy council and a governing board with diverse experts.  
“I am so proud of our entire Head Start community - from our program leaders and their staff, our DECE central office, to our policy council and governing board,” says Deputy Chancellor Dr. Kara Ahmed. “The commitment and dedication of each of these individuals, to ensure only the very best for children and their families, is extraordinary. I am honored to work alongside our colleagues and partners to advance our collective early childhood education vision on behalf of NYCPS and to continue to grow our Head Start programming.” 
 The federal monitoring included a week-long on-site review in New York City, involving interviews with DECE and Head Start staff, families, and shared governance members. NYCPS had only nine findings, marking a significant improvement for the city. NYCPS is proud to report that, even before the review's release, considerable progress had been made in streamlining invoicing processes, allowing for faster payments and multiple invoicing opportunities within a single month, which was previously not permitted. We are actively addressing any remaining citations in collaboration with our city partners and the Office of Head Start, whose partnership and support we appreciate. Together, we are committed to advancing high-quality early childhood education for all children.  
This positive independent review marks a significant milestone for New York City and a renewed commitment to serving children and families through the long-standing Head Start tradition.  
“As a forever educator and as Chair of the Council’s Education committee, there is nothing more important to me than fully meeting the needs of all NYC children and families. The federal Head Start program, which serves thousands of children across NYC, plays an important role in shaping the city’s social safety net,” said Chair Rita Joseph. “I am pleased that the recently completed independent review of the program’s implementation for NYC families found that the program is largely in compliance with federal expectations, which signifies the progress made by Chancellor Banks, Deputy Chancellor Ahmed, and the Early Childhood Education team since the last independent evaluation was completed in years prior to their arrival. It is reassuring for families to know that the Head Start program is on more stable footing as compared to prior years and I urge the administration to build on the progress made to ensure we are fully meeting the needs of families while optimizing support for our vital community-based providers, who literally hold up our city’s social safety net.”  
"As a leader in one of NYC's largest community-based organizations and one of the longest-standing providers of Head Start's early childcare services, I was thrilled to learn about the exceptional outcomes achieved by NYCPS from the recent federal Head Start monitoring review," said Dr. Darlene WIlliams, CEO of Union Settlement in East Harlem. "I extend my sincere gratitude to Deputy Chancellor Dr. Kara H. Ahmed and her team at the Division of Early Childhood Education for their exemplary leadership and unwavering support. They have been responsive and attentive to our needs as a Head Start program, and they have worked tirelessly to ensure safety and high-quality programming for children and their families. These results are a testament to their hard work and dedication, and I look forward to our continued partnership in providing early childhood education throughout the city."  
“As the NYC Public Schools City-wide Head Start Policy Council Chairperson, the first Chair ever to be elected from East Harlem Bilingual Head Start, as well as a parent of a four-year-old who attends that Head Start, I could not be any more honored to be a part of the work that NYCPS is doing to support Head Start and all early childhood programs,” said Chairperson Natalie Gonzalez. “This work ensures that NYC is providing safe and high-quality learning environments for children and families across all boroughs.”