Head Start, Early Head Start & Pre-K

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Our Driving Goals:

♦We help children to be ready for school.
♦We help parents become better parents.


Key Benefits

Head Start’s core belief is that disadvantaged children and their families can be helped through participation in an early childhood program. Its mission is to empower children, parents and staff to lead happier, healthier, more productive lives by realizing the full, dynamic potential that lies within all persons. This is accomplished by creating an atmosphere that encourages respect, responsiveness and nurturing toward each other in a manner that unleashes and supports the inherent right to be a unique individual.

There are four major components to Head Start and State Pre-K

1. Education

Every Head Start and Pre-K child receives a variety of learning experiences to foster intellectual, social and emotional growth. Children participate in indoor and outdoor play and are introduced to the concepts of words and numbers. They are encouraged to express their feelings and to develop self-confidence and the ability to get along with others.

Head Start and Pre-K programs have a low child-staff ratio. Staff members receive training in child development and early childhood education. This makes it possible for them to provide the most updated learning experience in our classrooms.

2. Health

Head Start and Pre-K emphasizes the importance of early identification of health problems. Since many preschool children of low income families have never seen a doctor or dentist, Head Start and Pre-K arranges for every child to receive, if needed, comprehensive health care, including medical, dental, mental health and nutrition services.

3. Parent Involvement

Parents are the most important influence on a child’s development. An essential part of every Head Start and Pre-K program is the involvement of parents in parent education, program planning and operating activities. Many serve as members of their local program’s Head Start Policy Councils and Center Committees and Head Start parents thereby have a voice in administrative and managerial decisions that affect Head Start.

Through participation in classes and workshops on child development and through staff visits to the home, parents learn about the needs of their children and about educational activities that can be carried on at home. Many parents also serve in Head Start and Pre-K on a volunteer basis or as aides to teachers, social service personnel and other staff members. All parents receive preference in Head Start jobs, which are non-professional.

4. Social Services

The social services component of Head Start and Pre-K represents an organized method of assisting families to assess their needs and then providing those services that will build upon the individual strengths of families to meet their own needs. Some of the activities that the social services staff use to assist families to meet their needs are: community outreach, referrals, family needs assessment, providing information about community resources and how to obtain and use them, recruitment and enrollment of children and emergency assistance and/or crisis intervention.

Eligibility Requirements

Head Start is a federally funded program; therefore, we must follow strict guidelines for enrollment. Also, State Pre-K requires that at-risk children be served first. To meet these mandates, a point system was created. A child who has an identified disability, for example, will earn more points and therefore stand a better chance of being enrolled first.

Ten percent of Head Start slots may be for over-income children; however, those slots are reserved for children with disabilities first. If there are none, then they will be filled, by the point system, with those over-income children with the greatest need.

Children with Disabilities

A disabled child can often learn more readily in a group with other children than in a separate group for the disabled. Head Start has successfully carried out a 1972 Congressional mandate requiring that at least 10 percent of its enrollment be available for disabled children.

Disabled children and their families receive developmental services through a partnership between Head Start and the local school systems. In addition, Head Start and Pre-K staff members work closely with community agencies to provide services to meet the special needs of the disabled child.

Since Head Start offers a large number of its “over income” slots to families with children with disabilities and since State Pre-K is expanding its program for over-income children, then it might be possible for your over-income children to enroll.

For more information on applying for Head Start or State Pre-K, call 423-303-3514.