BATON ROUGE – A number of Head Start centers across East Baton Rouge Parish will delay openings amid a nationwide teacher shortage.
The Division of Human Development and Services said Friday the Head Start Program will be staggering the opening of several centers until they can hire enough teachers to satisfy regulatory agency requirements.
The division said Freeman/Matthews, New Horizon, LaBelle Aire, Charlie Thomas and Progress II centers will open as planned on Sep. 6, and parents will be notified as more centers open.
Read the full statement below:
“As the Head Start program prepares to open on September 6, the program continues to struggle recruiting teaching staff. The nationwide teacher shortage has been exacerbated by the pandemic, retirements and resignations. The Head Start Program currently has 42 teacher vacancies representing 42% of the teaching staff and 24 Teacher Assistants vacancies representing 36%.
Recruiting efforts include the program paying for additional online coursework needed in childhood education or childhood development for individuals with Associate or Bachelor’s degrees in discipline. The program is also working with applicants for the Teacher Assistant position willing to return to school to obtain an AA Degree within two years and will assist with providing guidance in securing scholarships through Louisiana Pathways funding through the Louisiana Department of Education.
Head Start Programs have been strongly encouraged by the Administration for Children and Families to use American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds, base grant operation funds and other COVID-19 relief funds to offer competitive financial incentives to staff, such as retention and hiring bonuses to help stabilize and support their workforce for the upcoming school year. The program gave $1500 bonuses last school year for hard to fill classifications and continue to work diligently to provide additional bonuses for this school year.
Head Start programs across the country are competing with other employers, such as public schools, for qualified staff. The Office of Head Start (OHS) strongly encourages programs to offer financial incentives that are substantial enough to compete with incentives and overall compensation rates offered by competitor employers in their local job market, including elementary schools, while understanding that such financial incentives are not permanent wage increases.
The Head Start Program will stagger opening of Centers until staffing capacity required by regulatory agencies are met. The following Centers will open on September 6 are as follows: Freeman Matthews, New Horizon, LaBelle Aire, Charlie Thomas and Progress II. Parents will be informed as more center(s) open.”