Head Start History
Established by Congress in 1965, Head Start is a federally funded educational program designed to meet the needs of low-income children and their families. Based on strong evidence from research and practice, Head Start’s positive track record demonstrates that young children involved in quality early childhood programs are substantially more successful in both school and home environments. Head Start is the only National program of its kind that utilizes a comprehensive services approach to early childhood education.
The Head Start Early Childhood Development Program offers a variety of services to preschoolers three to five years old and their families. They provide children with a place to learn through play. Trained personnel supervise the classes of 16 to 17 children. The program consists of activities in art, language, math and science in a friendly, warm atmosphere. Nutrition, health, social services, and psychological/speech therapy services are provided. Children with disabilities are welcomed at our programs. Federal income guidelines establish eligibility. The centers are open year around and full day except on legal holidays.
Family & Community Partnerships
The Head Start approach actively involves parents in the program. This is done through:
Membership on the Policy Council, which governs the program. Home visits by the Head Start Staff that provide opportunities for parents and staff to learn more about each other and strengthen the home-school connection.
Opportunities for volunteering in the classroom on a regular basis, which fosters an understanding of a child’s day to day learning experiences.
Parent education and program activities are planned with parental input and made available to all Head Start parents. Head Start programs also link families to community resourced and services. Some examples are:
◊ Parent education programs
◊ Job training and employment opportunities
◊ English As A Second Language Instruction (ESL)
◊ General Equivalency Diploma Instruction (GED)
◊ Emergency Assistance and Crisis Intervention
Program Design and Management
Head Start promotes the development of excellence in program management as the primary support for quality services provided to young children and their families. Programs are required to establish management systems and procedures that are effective for both short and long term success. The implementation of Head Start legislation, regulations, and policies is over seen by:
A Policy Group which represents Head Start parents and the community.
Governing bodies which include representatives from Head Start programs and the community.
Head Start Program Performance Standards
These standards evolved from the application of research and effective education approaches from quality early childhood programs. Based on evidence from this research, the program standards guide the operation of all Head Start programs. By adhering to these standards, Head Start programs can ensure early childhood program quality.
Early Childhood Development & Health Services
Head Start is designed to meet the individual needs of each child. Classroom materials, activities and practice reflect this in two major ways:
The program curriculum offers a variety of learning experiences which promotes optimum intellectual, social, emotional, physical growth and development.
A variety of teaching techniques are used in Head Start classrooms and teacher’s lesson plans for flexibility in the program day.
Preventive health services are central to Head Start’s comprehensive array of supports. Early identification of health-related needs ensure that each child receives medical, dental, mental health and disabilities services if needed.
Inclusive Care and Education
A growing body of evidence from research is demonstrating the benefits that young children with disabilities can gain from service delivery in quality education programs in inclusive environments.
Head Start provides children with disabilities with a full range of necessary special education services in an inclusive setting. Service providers work with Head Start children in the areas of:
Speech and Language
Occupational and Physical Therapy
Head Start programs strive to provide a broad continuum of services to meet the needs of all their children and families. Head Start programs partner with other early childhood agencies to create options and resources for families in need. These collaborations include: Family Literacy, Mental Health, Health Care and English As A Second Language
Extended year services
Transportation (Provided for eligible children)
Job Training and Employment Opportunities
Head Start parents are assisted with job training opportunities within the program and within the community. Head Start parents very often become staff.