BHK awarded 5-year, $20 million grant

HOUGHTON – BHK Child Development has been awarded a five-year non-competitive federal grant to continue providing Early Head Start and Head Start services for the Copper Country.

The grant is given out by the federal Administration for Children and Families to those agencies it deems to be providing high-quality services; all grants had previously been year-to-year. In its recent revamp of Head Start regulations, it established seven criteria to determine whether individual Head Start programs were meeting their goals. Those programs that fell short of the benchmarks would have to compete with other local programs for continued Head Start funding.

A federal monitoring review found no deficiencies at BHK. In addition, it noted community collaborations, above-average classroom assessment scores and well-established school readiness goals for children from birth to age 5.

“We see it as a recognition for doing very well in the classroom,” said director Pat Rozich. “It also should make people understand we were recognized as a center of excellence two years ago. That’s an indication of what being recognized in that manner can do for you.”

Rozich said going from a one-year planning horizon to five will create a more coherent planning process and give Head Start instructors more job security.

“This will be much more efficient,” he said. “It will provide us much more confidence in that this is the money we’ll have.”

Rozich said the designation was also affirming coming so soon after BHK’s financial problems. In October, the board dismissed BHK’s executive director and laid off seven teachers after the discovery of a $1.2 million budget deficit.

“We feel as though we’re a much more settled agency … (the Midwest region office in) Chicago named the tune, we did the dance,” he said. “We’ve provided them what they wanted, shown the evidence they wanted, and we are not any longer an agency of concern. It took us only six months to get there. We’re kind of proud of what we’ve done.”Rozich corrected himself.

“I won’t say kind of,” he said. “I’m really proud of what the staff has done.”