New York City's Head Start Tries to Create Safe, Drug-Free Environments

Pilot replication in New York City of the Free to Grow Program

From June 1998 through June 2004, national program office staff of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) national program Free to Grow attempted to replicate the program's substance abuse strategies in Head Start programs in three high-risk neighborhoods in New York City.

Key Results:

  • The Administration for Children's Services sought to maintain control of how the projects would be implemented, rather than transferring control and accountability to the delegate agencies responsible for carrying out the work.
  • That resulted in limited commitment from local agencies in implementing the project.
  • In addition, the local agencies failed to involve sufficient numbers of parent advocates in the project.
  • As a result, none of the agencies were able to start up their Free to Grow projects effectively, and all ended their Free to Grow activities before the grant terminated.
  • After the replication efforts ended, the Free to Grow national program office used unexpended grant funds to subcontract with the Washington-based Finance Project, which helped other Free to Grow grantees with planning to sustain their projects after grant funding ended.

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