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Head Start - Everything You Need to Know

Part 1 of 2 - Getting Started

Head Start Works
Our children today are growing up much differently than we did. Technology has taken over and our children are expected and must learn more than ever before. First grade now is how we remember third grade used to be. By the time our children start kindergarten they are expected to know the alphabet, letter sounds, and how to write their name. When we were in kindergarten the expectations were significantly less!

Times have changed, and that is why programs like Head Start are more important than ever. The goal of Head Start is to promote school readiness in young children from low income families and is funded by the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007.

Head Start programs strive to support the social, mental and emotional development of children from birth to the age of five. They also provide programs for families that include health, nutrition, social education and other services. These programs aim to help families by encouraging relationships that support well-being and building a positive parent-child relationship.

What Programs Does Head Start offer?
When Head Start first began it was designed as a program for preschoolers. Today, around 80% of program participants are three and four years old.

Early Head Start
The Early Head Start program serves pregnant women, infants and toddlers. The goal of the Early Head Start program is to help families care for their infants and toddlers through early education services. The family will stay enrolled (if eligible) until the child is ready to transition into a Head Start preschool program. Early Head Start programs can be offered for six hours a day.

Head Start Preschool Services
Head Start preschool services may be a half-day or a full-day. Children enrolled in Head Start Preschool Services will attend a center based preschool. While there the child will interact with other children, learn how to sit in a classroom and the teacher will strive to ensure that all children in their classroom are ready for school. The main goal behind Head Start Preschool Services is school readiness.

Home Based
Home based services are available for those who do not want center based services. With this program a staff person visits the child once a week in their home and works with the parent as their child's teacher. Children enrolled in home based services are able to meet twice a month with other families enrolled in the program. This allows for additional learning experiences in a group setting facilitated by the staff of Head Start.