Let's Combine Head Start Centers and Community Colleges

Head Start + community college = win for everybody.

As soon as I saw this bright idea hatched by this this editorial in the Washington Post (WAPO) on March 14, I thought to myself “Yeah. That makes sense.” Simply put, the idea is to open Head Start centers at community college campus locations, so younger women with young children can drop the kids off for quality daycare while they’re taking classes.

Young moms (or dads) get a hand up with their drive to upskill or reskill and get higher-paying jobs with a future. Kids get a dialed-in preschool experience that provides a potent on-ramp to public schools. Of course, this initiative goes well beyond the confines of information technology and all its many related job roles, skill sets, and so forth.

That said, this approach is a blindingly obvious way to ease a significant burden on a key subset of members of the community who could truly benefit from training and upskilling. It's just icing on the cake that such an arrangement would also support improved life outcomes (for both parents and children), increased workforce diversity, and more.

Community Colleges Are a Hub for Local, Personal Development and Education

I’ve long argued here at GoCertify (and elsewhere) that community colleges are the linchpin of training for career development, certification, IT tools and technologies, and soft skills. A quick Google search at GoCertify on "Ed Tittel" and "community college" turns up 51 items, of which at least half are stories I’ve written that mention community college programs in the context of training and certification.

I’ve long been a fan of such institutions. They’re usually local (less than 25 miles away), they're affordable (cheapest credit hour charges for all types of U.S. tertiary education), and they tend to cover the kinds of IT topics, skills, and certifications most likely to help successful students move straight into the workforce after they finish their programs.

What Could Possibly Make Community Colleges Better?

Head Start + community college = win for everybody.

WAPO nails it in one: By bringing Head Start Centers to community college campuses, young moms (or dads) who need somebody to watch their offspring so they can attend classes and labs, then study and do their homework, would suddenly have real and valuable educational opportunities available to them.

WAPO lays out some interesting stats to make this argument, including:

- 1 in 5 college students have kids.
- 1 in 10 are single mothers.
- 67 percent of those mothers with children under 6 years old live at or under the poverty line.
- Right now, 180,000 funded spots in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Head Start program are unfilled.
- Only 100 Head Start centers are currently situated on community college campuses.
- Lack of child care access in the United States costs around $122 billion every year from lost earnings, productivity, and revenue. That’s a LOT!

Again, in light of the data, it seems obvious (perhaps blindingly so) that bringing Head Start centers to community college campuses and inviting young moms to take advantage of them while studying something is a big win-win for everyone involved.

And though there will be some up-front costs to make this happen — building and staffing centers, recruiting more students, and providing them with financial aid — the long-term results benefit society as well as the individual attendees. Indeed, higher education more or less guarantees that those who complete it will make more money, find better jobs, and enjoy better quality of life than those who don’t.

Personally, I think this kind of thing should become a standard feature at all of the 1,100-plus community colleges in the United States. What better way to improve and increase the value of our human capital, while opening up more and better employment to those who really need it?

Please write your local congressperson and point them at this column, or the WAPO story, and ask them to support such efforts. We’ll all be better off as a result.

Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at www.edtittel.com, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.