Pilot Head Start Program

Focus: HOPE is among four Detroit organizations that will share $12 million in federal funds annually to deliver a comprehensive new model for early childhood development. The new Birth to Five program will offer a continuum of services to Detroit children and their families, combining both Early Head Start and Head Start programming and funding.

The collaborative is led by Starfish Family Services in partnership with Focus: HOPE; Development Centers, Inc.; and Southwest Solutions, Inc. Additionally, HighScope Educational Research Foundation will provide curriculum, professional development, and evaluation support.

“The funding provides us with the opportunity to deliver a seamless birth-to-five program that will have a huge impact on children and expectant parents,” said Focus: HOPE CEO William F. Jones, Jr. “Our Center for Children has been at the forefront of providing quality Early Head Start and early childhood education services to families in Detroit and beyond. Now, we can strengthen our efforts with innovative programming that meets the changing needs of our community and further supports and stabilizes young families.”

The Office of Head Start in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is providing the funding for the Birth to Five program, which will total $60 million over the next five years. Nearly 1,000 children and families in eleven Detroit zip codes are expected to be served each year. Focus: HOPE’s targeted zip codes for the pilot program are in and around the area served by its HOPE Village Initiative. HOPE Village is a comprehensive place-based initiative designed to change the odds for children and their families and build a pipeline of educational opportunity. Detroit is one of only five cities in the U.S. chosen to participate in the pilot program.


“This is an exciting time for kids and families in Detroit,” said Starfish CEO Ann Kalass. “Together with our partners of Development Centers, Focus: HOPE and Southwest Solutions, we will offer impactful Early Head Start and Head Start services while engaging families and kids in a range of other support including parent education, workforce development, housing, and mental health services. Our collaborative approach will serve nearly 1,000 people, including pregnant women and children 0-5, across the city of Detroit each year.”

Focus: HOPE and the other organizations were selected based on the success of their current Early Head Start programs, which service pregnant women and families with children up to age 3, and  Head Start programming that focuses on 3- to 5-year-olds in Detroit and western Wayne County.  Studies have shown that children who are prepared to succeed when they enter kindergarten are more likely to graduate, stay out of prison and move out of poverty.

The funds will be used to support all levels of the birth-to-five programming, including professional development for childcare professionals and K-3 educators, as well as fostering stronger family and parent engagement.  As part of the award, the organizations in the collaborative must match 25-percent of the grant by raising $3 million each year.

In addition to Detroit, the pilot Birth to Five program is rolling out in Baltimore, Md.; Washington D.C.; Jersey City, N.J.; and Sunflower County, Mississippi.

“The funding provides us with the opportunity to deliver a seamless birth-to-five program that will have a huge impact on children and expectant parents”