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Saba's Asset Based Community Development MOU Page








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Expanding ECRR through Head Start


Partners: Brazoria County Library System Pearland Westside Branch and  Brazoria County Head Start Pearland Campus



1. Develop an effective and replicable model of interagency collaboration between a state public library system, and a federally administered program for child and family development, aimed at aligning resources and achieving common endpoints.


2. Empower low income families with knowledge and tools necessary for offsetting the social, cognitive, and psychological disadvantage in early childhood development associated with upbringing in resource constrained environment.



Objectives for Goal # 1:

1. To conduct consecutive, weekly, hour long, library outreach sessions modeled on ECRR workshops at selected Head Start and Early Head Start centers over a period of one year, by engaging parents and caregivers of children being serviced at these centers, and obtaining at least 80% overall attendance rate. 

2. To provide outreach program participants the opportunity to become regular patrons of the library system and obtain at least 80% enrollment rate, along with significant increase in attendance in Brazoria County Library programs, and higher circulation rates over the one year period, for the Head Start serviced population. 

3. To identify one additional avenue for interagency collaboration outside of Brazoria County using the same framework, and submit the report of methodological aspects, analysis of outcomes data, and lessons learned from this project for peer review. 


Objectives for Goal # 2:

1. To achieve significant increase in the number of times / day the parents or caregivers engage with their children in five Every Child Ready to Read activities over the period of one year of program implementation.  

2. To attain enhanced measures of language and reading development in children of participating families by comparing pre and post program metrics with standardized data.


Association of Library Service to Children Competencies- Vahidy_MOU_Competencies.docx


Evidence Based Practice 

The primary goal of this project is to establish a successful collaboration between Brazoria County Library System and federally administered Head Start program. Such collaborations can be mutually beneficial for the two organizations. This has not only been recognized in the charter of the National Head Start Association (NHSA), but the award of collaboration grants along with establishment of state collaboration offices, as mandated by the federal law governing the Head Start initiative (42  U.S.C. § 9835 (a)(2)(B)(vi)). Different models of Head Start collaboration and case studies of partnership with other state child care and educational programs have been reported in the NHSA Policy Report (Dropkin, 2013). The following research project is specifically selected as it provides relevant evidence to the proposed collaboration in multiple ways as summarized below.


Webster-Stratton, C. (1998). Preventing conduct problems in Head Start children: strengthening parenting competencies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66(5), 715.

Early onset conduct problems in children lead to multiple adolescent and adulthood negative behaviors, and are strongly associated with upbringing in low income families. One of the factors that mediate this cause and effect phenomenon could be inconsistent, hostile, critical, and abusive parenting practice. In this comprehensive program, researchers consented and provided knowledge, training, and tools to a cohort of parents of Head Start program children for positive parenting. The participating families were randomized into an intervention and a control group. Baseline and sequential assessments were made to compare the change in negative parenting behaviors between the two groups.  Parenting competence was evaluated via parent self-reports, as well observation within home by independent observers. Significant short and long term beneficial effects of the intervention have been reported in the article. The study was conducted by child psychologists at University of Washington, in collaboration with Puget Sound Head Start Center. This research program and its implementation provide relevant evidence for potential success of the proposed collaboration in multiple ways.


The second goal of this project is to utilize the Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) framework for providing parents and care givers knowledge and tools needed to enhance learning experiences of their children by providing stimulating home environment. Every Child Ready to Read 1st edition was developed in 2008 by a joint ALA / PLA task force. Evaluation and feedback from this program, augmented by extensive examination of evidence for effective strategies in early childhood development, has led to the 2nd edition of ECRR. Though the principles underlying the new version are the same, it has greater emphasis on building vocabulary, background knowledge, and comprehension – the so called ‘unconstrained skills’, by incorporating simple tasks in the child’s daily routine, led by parents and caregivers. The evidence supporting development of ECRR activities is extensive and has been reviewed as a part of the full evaluation report of ECRR 1st edition (Neuman, 2010). The article selected below not only exemplifies how principles of ECRR can be successfully extended beyond the confines of a public library, but also provides insight into planning aspects of initiating an outreach program in the community. 


Fulton, Rhonda. Taking it to the Streets: Every Child Ready to Read on the Go. Children & Libraries v. 7 no. 1 (Spring 2009): p. 8-12.

This report describes the planning and implementation aspects of Cleveland Public Library system’s effort to extend the reach of ECRR program. Upon engaging the parents in early literacy efforts within the library, it was soon recognized that community based outreach efforts can pay higher dividends. This need was reinforced by a formal study conducted by a library consulting firm and focused group discussions in the community. The program centered on a mobile service that would reach out to teachers at early childhood centers and home day care centers providing them with library resources as well as models for effective story telling. The second part of the program was to engage parents and care givers of children in the 0 – 5 age group by seeking them out at medical centers and Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) offices. These outreach efforts were librarian led, and activities were designed based on ECRR principles. This article also describes in some detail the logistical aspects of the project including obtaining the mobile vehicle, training of staff, collection development, as well as experiences from the field. Also pertinent to the current proposal, are details on establishing an outreach library resources circulation service and coordination with various child care centers. The author provides evidence of positive feedback from the program participants as well as from the community at large as evidence of program efficacy. 


Measures for Success 

Based on the goals and objectives, as stated above, the data will be collected to show efficacy and impact of this collaborative project. Table 1 elaborates measures of success, data elements to be captured, methods / timeline of data capture, and utilization of data for project monitoring and improvement, pertaining to each individual goal / objective.  Whereas Table 2 highlights the 5 core ECRR (2nd ed.) activities to be reinforced along with specific targeted modalities of early childhood development and tests of measurement. Furthermore, various instruments developed for data capture and monitoring, referenced through Table 1 are appended as Appendices ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’. These forms have been developed as electronically fillable forms to minimize time required for completion, paper utilization, and data entry errors. 



Benefits for Head Start Program:

1. The National Association of Head Start and the federal law governing implementation of Head Start mandates collaboration of Head Start with other agencies in provision of care to low income families. The State Collaboration Office is funded by a competitive grant, a success parameter of this grant is to demonstrate establishment of effective collaboration with a multitude of agencies.  Review of literature and personal interview with the director of Office of Head Start Collaboration for Texas, reveals no prior evidence of local or regional public library collaboration with Head Start Program.  This project will help benefit Head Start in attaining this important metric.


2. The mission of Head Start is to support mental, social, and physical development of children under 5 who are at risk of poor educational and behavioral outcomes later in childhood and adolescence. The proposed collaboration is directly supportive of the overall mission. It is envisioned that empowering parents and caregivers by providing them with knowledge and tools to support the intellectual and behavioral development of their children will ultimately improve outcomes, thus enhancing the overall impact of the Head Start program in the community. 


3. This proposal encompasses active engagement of Head Start staff and teachers in activities and teaching done by the library staff. Head Start teachers will be provided an opportunity and encouraged to train and deliver ECRR based methods, incorporating them into their routine curricula even after the termination of the project. This would provide additional staff development opportunity to the Head Start Program. 


Benefits for the library:

1. Education, health, and poverty are interconnected domains of societal development and wellbeing. Role of libraries and librarians is increasingly being recognized in augmenting the community resources active in addressing these elements of societal development. This public library led project will enable librarians to interact directly with a successful community oriented program of combating poverty by provision of educational, nutritional, and medical services. This directly benefits the library system in establishing itself as an important organization that contributes to societal development. 


2. Every Child Ready to Read® @ your library® is a parent / caregiver led program designed with an aim of active parental involvement in literary development of under 5 children. However, it is understood that attendance at libraries may not represent the whole community cross section. As a matter of fact it is highly likely that population that may be most benefited from these strategies are not attending in-house library programs.  This project will therefore benefit the public library system by extending the reach and providing evidence of benefit of ECRR program beyond the confines of the library. 


3. The project provides professional development opportunity for the librarians in avenues of collaboration development, project planning and implementation, as well as actively interfacing with community development partners. These skill sets are instrumental in extending the role of libraries and establishing the library system as a recognized community partner of social growth.   


4. The Pearland Westside Library is a small and relatively new branch in the Brazoria County Library System. Along with improving the outreach of library activities and programs as mentioned above, this project will also benefit the branch in increasing the attendance at in-library programs as well as circulation of its resources.  An improvement in library programs and resource circulation may also been seen at other Brazoria County branches. 


Benefits for the community partners:

1. The identified community partner for this project is one of the largest independent food retailers in the nation, Here Everything’s Better™ (H-E-B). The H-E-B organization prides itself to have active community participation and has established operational mechanisms to support non-profit organizations in its neighboring communities. As its mission, it provides donations and monetary support to a number of activities, but educational and literary avenues are at the top of the list. This project aligns with community efforts of H-E-B and enables the organization to continue contributing meaningfully in reducing the impact of poverty and its associated societal contributors. 


Responsibilities of the Partners 

Head Start Program Responsibilities:

1. Provision of organizational consent for collaboration. 

2. Provision of infrastructural support in terms of space / class rooms, furniture, and other utilities for successful conduct of outreach programs. 

3. Provision of funding via the federal Head Start Collaborative grant as itemized in the budget section of this MOU. 

4. Support of the outreach sessions by Head Start Center staff (teachers) by training in ECRR activities and active collaboration.


Library responsibilities: 

1. Provision of organizational consent for collaboration. 

2. Provision of funding in support of the program as has been itemized in the budget section of this MOU. 

3. Development of age specific curricula based on ECRR activities for delivery during the outreach sessions 

4. Providing library memberships to the participating families 

5. Tracking and maintaining attendance of enrolled participants at the in-house library programs and quantum of library resource circulation to the participants 

6. Overall coordination of the project, along with provision of regular feedback to all stakeholders on the progress 

7. Identification of avenues for and planning of project replicability 

8. Preparation of final report highlighting methodology, results, and lessons learned from the project 


Shared responsibilities:

1. Organization of outreach sessions at Head Start and Early Head Start Centers 

2. Obtaining consents from individual families as per the requirements laid down by institutional review boards

3. Maintain continued interest and participation of enrolled participants in outreach sessions

4. Collection of baseline, interim, and end of project data – shared by library and Head Start staff



 A total of $24,379.96 itemized budget for the project is presented spanning over 84 weeks is presented below.  The cost sharing model between Brazoria County, Head Start State Collaboration office and selected community partners is presented (Table 3). 



For the purposes of planning, implementation, evaluation, and closure of this project, it is envisioned to be conducted in three phases.  

Phase I initiates with development of project proposal and MOU, and terminates at the initiation of ECRR outreach sessions commence. It primarily involves planning and setting up of the project. 

Phase II commences at the termination of phase I and continues uptil final evaluations are due. This phase will include implementation, conduct, monitoring, interim evaluations and continued coordination. This period will also include identification of a viable avenue for replication of this project outside of Brazoria County. 

Phase III entails closure activities and initiates with final evaluations. It entails getting final evaluations completed, completion of all outreach sessions, conducting necessary end of project documentation, staff and participant appreciation activities, providing feedback to stakeholders, final collection and entry of data, analysis of data, reporting writing and peer review. 


Ending the partnership 

Deal breakers:

The success of this county library led collaborative project hinges on active contribution by all stakeholders. Any situation that may lead to loss of target population involvement can potentially jeopardize the project. It is an expectation that efforts on part of the Head Start staff are continually needed to maintain engagement of parents / caregivers of the 0-5 children involved. As has been elaborated in the MOU, attendance of parents / caregivers in outreach sessions as well as in-library programs will be continually monitored through the duration of the program. This would enable early recognition of any decline in participation, analyze possible reasons, re-engage partners and possibly institute early rectification of any factors that are leading to project decline. However, decline in parent participation and sub-optimal engagement of Head Start staff may be a potential deal breaker for this project. Other factors that may impede project progress is commitment of library system resources. The most critical being personnel effort, as has been itemized in the budget / personnel resources section.  In order to circumvent this potential fallout personnel turnover and other commitments need to factor in conduct and implementation of this project in planning.  Progress and feedback to internal library system management will be continually provided to mitigate such an occurrence. 


Bless and release (exit strategy):

The Pearland Westside Library and the Head Start Center will recognize that not all partnerships can survive beyond the fixed-term project, which will conclude when the funding ends. The unfortunate reality of community partnerships is that a graceful exit strategy is necessary to dissolve the project amicably. The library and nonprofit agency will understand that three culminating actions will take place after the last outreach session. First, there will be a joint staff and participant appreciation event. Secondly, any unused or surplus supplies/equipment will be returned to the originating partners. And lastly, a stakeholder meeting will be held to present the data and findings of the project.


Reflection on Capstone Project, Stage 3: 

The potential of public libraries in community development is undeniable, particularly so for the disadvantaged populations.  There is growing evidence from around the world of how libraries can bring about positive change in lives of all cross sections of the community.  The possibilities are endless and socio-economic gains can be tremendous.  Efforts led through libraries have impacted sectors like agriculture, unemployment, youth development, and health – at times in challenging political and social circumstances (Lipeikaite, 2013). As the libraries continue to lend themselves to an ever expanding role in the community, the professional development of librarians becomes increasingly critical. Realization of the potential of libraries will lead to continued developmental demands on the librarians from all stakeholders, particularly the policy makers, the funding agencies, the sector and content area specialists, as well as the community and patrons themselves.  If libraries are to function as extensions of social sector developmental organizations and services, then the quintessential librarian will not only need to have a thorough understanding of social, cultural, economic, political issues as they pertain to the communities they serve, but will also need to develop professional skills in organization, coordination, collaboration and service delivery. Integral to this extended paradigm of the role of librarians is the need for actively interfacing with community stakeholders, and seeking out and maintaining strong partnerships. 

This Capstone Project has provided an excellent opportunity for me to explore and plan the finer practical and logistical nuances of such collaboration, in a community where I conducted my practicum in. First and foremost are the planning aspects. By virtue of this project, I realized that it is critical at the outset to evaluate the ‘partnership potential’ of an organization.  Though a number of organizations may have common mission elements, these alone may not be sufficient to garner support for collaboration.  On the contrary, overlapping objectives can in themselves be a cause for conflict of interest - as organizations and their funding partners may be interested in demonstrating societal impact directly related to their endeavors. Existing infrastructure for collaboration and history of collaboration with other organizations can be pivotal.  I feel that identifying Head Start as a potential partner is pertinent, as it has these two essential elements. From the infrastructural standpoint, the state office of collaboration of Head Start has been mandated by its charter to engage with other organizations towards fulfilling its mission.  In a personal interview with the Texas State Office director Dr. Alferma Giles, it was further clarified that not only does the organization have the capacity and infrastructure to form and support collaborations, but alos has had a rich history of coordination with other agencies. The financial support for such collaborations is made relatively easy to secure, as the funds are provisioned directly by Head Start (federal) avoiding state level bureaucratic processes. It was also important to identify and establish contact with individuals who are to play an instrumental role in service delivery, and also those who are authorized to make decisions and sign documents. The lead agency in this case would be the Gulf Coast Community Action Agency which serves the area of Pearland. The office of the Education Services Manager would be the signing authority for Pearland Head Start.




Dropkin, E. (2013). Partners for Success: Case Studies of Collaboration between Head Start and Pre-K. Retrieved from http://www.nhsa.org/files/static_page_files/5AC0BDEA-1D09-3519-AD3C0F92ECF1FF2F/Partners%20For%20Success%20-%20Head%20Start%20and%20PreK.pdf (Accessed November 20, 2014).


Neuman, S. B. & Celano, D. (2010). Every Child Ready to Read Evaluation Report. (1st Ed.). Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/alsc/shib_login/?q=every-child-ready-read-evaluation-report (Accessed November 22, 2014)


Lipeikaite, U. Petuchovaite, R. (2013). Everything Counts: Impact Stories Leading to Success. Retrieved from http://library.ifla.org/207/7/113-lipeikaite-en.pdf (Accessed November 28, 2014). 


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