Kids on Campus

On-Campus Childcare Landscape

A chronic shortage of affordable on-campus childcare leaves student parents – especially single mothers – struggling to meet a basic need necessary for pursuing post-secondary education. The long-term benefit of obtaining post-secondary education is well understood by parents, but the reality of the lack of affordable childcare solutions is often a barrier.

Nearly 1 in 10 U.S. undergraduate students are single mothers, nearly all of whom have incomes at or near the poverty line. Though students’ children may be eligible for Head Start preschool services, fewer than 100 community college campuses have Head Start centers on-site. At the same time, Head Start programs are struggling with enrollment and workforce issues, leaving up to 180,000 federally-funded childcare slots unfilled. Even if parents meet income requirements for programs such as Head Start which opens the door to childcare access, there can still be challenges when it comes to accessing the facilities.

Source: Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation

Kids on Campus User Guide


The Kids on Campus User Guide is designed to support community colleges and Head Start programs in connecting, negotiating, and launching a successful partnership. This user guide was created from insights we gained from lessons learned on current partnerships, roadblocked partnerships, and organizations that are interested in establishing partnerships. Although each partnership is unique, the partnership process for each on-campus Head Start and community college partnership follows the same primary steps.

Access the User Guide

Project Overview

The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and the National Head Start Association (NHSA) are partnering to achieve the goal of increasing the number of Head Start programs co-located on community college campuses.

Head Start provides can benefit from being on campuses as it locates them in direct proximity to the populations they are looking to serve, gives them access to college students who are studying early childhood education and looking to work in their field while studying, and gives them access to low-cost or free rent, which can be used toward their match to federal funds.

Community Colleges benefit by being able to offer their student parents on-campus childcare at no cost to those who qualify. Additionally, many programs of study on community college campuses – from early childhood to medical and dental assistants to culinary and HVAC – have the opportunity to partner with Head Start to provide the program with services of students in a work-learning partnership.

The resources provided on this site are the result of the 2023 planning work that drew from focus groups, surveys, meetings, and site visits with currently active partnerships, those desiring partnerships, and those attempted partnerships but hit roadblocks.

For those interested in learning more or engaging in next steps, please complete our engagement form below and look for next step announcements in February 2024.

Engage with the Initiative

Interested in engaging with the Kids on Campus Initiative, sharing your institution's experiences as a current Head Start partner, or becoming a Head Start partner. Sign up here to engage with the Kids on Campus Initiative. Thank you for your interest and support!

Sign Up to Engage With Us


Institute for Women's Policy Research | Investing in Single Mothers’ Higher Education

National Head Start Association | Head Start United: Removing Barriers to Access for Children and Families


Kids on Campus WebinarExploring On-Campus Childcare Solutions: Head Start and Community College Partnerships - April 2023
Kids on Campus Establishing Partnerships WebinarEstablishing Partnerships: Connecting Head Start and Community Colleges - September 2023

Funding made possible by:

ECMC Foundation
Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation

Contact For More Information

For questions about the Kids on Campus initiative contact:

Steve Jurch, Director, Center for Policy and Practice