St. Mary’s County Public Schools (SMCPS) has announced that it will relinquish its Head Start grant at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. This decision comes after adopting the new Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which requires full-day Pre-Kindergarten for income-eligible children.
While SMCPS Head Start is in good standing, the new mandate prioritizes Pre-K programming for four-year-olds. As a result, no three-year-old classes will be offered in the school system for the 2023-2024 school year.
The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future allows for mixed delivery services to three- and four-year-old income-eligible children, including private childcare providers deemed eligible by the Maryland State Department of Education. Unfortunately, no eligible private providers have been identified in St. Mary’s County at this time.
Despite this setback, SMCPS remains optimistic about exploring participation options with the school system’s support. The Office of Head Start Region III has also been encouraged to pursue inclusion as a private provider serving three-year-old children, with an offer of support and partnership from SMCPS.
To support families with income-eligible three-year-old children, SMCPS’ Judy Center Early Learning Hubs, the Promise Resource Center, the local management Early Childhood Action Committee, and the Department of Social Services will work together to facilitate connections with high-quality childcare providers.
For families who need additional assistance, the SMCPS Early Childhood HELPLINE is available at (301)-475-5511, ext. 32161.