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Researcher creates assessments to aid Head Start programs

Researcher creates assessments to aid Head Start programs

JANUARY 6, 2020Lloyd Potter, researcher and director of UTSA’s Institute for Demographic and Socioeconomic Research, is supporting local Head Start and Early Head Start programs toward being more effective. Potter has worked with the City of San Antonio’s Department of Human Services Early Head Start-Child Care and Head Start Programs, and with local nonprofit San Antonio AVANCE Inc. to better assess their programs to provide information about how they are meeting the needs of the children and families they serve.

The Early Head Start and Head Start programs of the Department of Human Services and AVANCE conduct comprehensive community needs assessments every five years and community needs assessment updates annually. The results are compiled into reports that help ensure the Head Start programs’ services are located where they are needed, identify any changes to the challenges of those experiencing poverty, and determine the need for additional services.

Potter and his colleagues have been responsible for the content development, data collection, analysis and final recommendations of the assessments by identifying the conditions contributing to the need for Head Start services for young children and their families and to providing evidence of those conditions for the past 10 years.


Learn more about Lloyd Potter.


A recent assessment indicated that the most of the population of children eligible for Head Start (children in poverty ages 3 and 4 years) in the programs’ service areas were being served by the Head Start programs. Potter said, “However, when we looked the population of Early Head Start children who were eligible, only a fraction were enrolled.” This has resulted in the programs seeking permission to shift resources to the Early Head Start program and the ramping up of efforts to identify parents who have eligible children to encourage them to enroll.

According to Head Start data, preschoolers develop lasting mental processes that enable children to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, juggle multiple tasks successfully and manage emotions. The San Antonio and AVANCE Inc. Early Head Start and Head Start programs currently serve more than 4,700 ages 6 weeks to 5 years old who live in the Harlandale, Edgewood, and much of the San Antonio Independent School District.

Potter said, “There are numerous examples of Head Start and Early Head Start programs in San Antonio using data from the community needs assessments to more effectively serve our children. When I hear how the information we found and provided the programs is being used to reach and support more children and families in need in more efficient and effective ways, I find it deeply rewarding. Additionally, some of the best parts of this work are having the opportunity to work with dedicated professionals working every day to improve the life chances of our children and meeting parents and caregivers whose children are in the programs.”

Ingrid Wright


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