Campus: CSU Northridge -- October 05, 2001

Head Start, CSUN Partnership Addresses Special Concerns of Hispanic Community

Cal State Northridge has started its second year of a four-year, $600,000 grant-funded project aimed at enhancing the quality of Head Start services to the Hispanic community.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families benefits Head Start's largely Hispanic clientele by funding programs targeted at bridging cultures and, in particular, increasing staff members' understanding about the Hispanic culture.

CSUN was one of seven universities nationwide to begin such programs in 2000-2001. Audrey Clark, CSUN family environmental sciences professor, heads this project.

"We're proud to be involved in this project," Clark said. "This project marks Head Start's expansion in its work with four-year universities, and it allows us to address the special educational needs of families and staff with Hispanic backgrounds.

"Head Start is more than just an organization preparing children for school," Clark continued. "It's also an organization that provides ways for adults to move upward economically and socially through a combination of work and education."

During the program's first year at CSUN, more than 40 Head Start employees were accepted as project participants. In addition, a stipend program was established to assist students in their academic goals during unemployed summer months. The Family Environmental Sciences Department began offering a weekend child development course and child care administration courses for working students. At the same time, the department introduced two experimental courses-the Head Start seminar and The Helping Professional.

In its second year, project planners intend to provide first semester tuition to Head Start employees transferring from a community college to CSUN in Spring 2002 in order to provide seamless service between community colleges and the university.

Three collaborating Head Start delegate agencies-Child Care Resource Center, Volunteers of America-Los Angeles and the Latin American Civic Association-operate approximately 40 sites in the San Fernando Valley. Eighty to 90 percent of the children and families served by these agencies are from Hispanic backgrounds. Almost half of the parents in these families speak only Spanish.

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