What is Head Start?
- Head Start is a comprehensive child development program designed to assist children and prepare them to enter kindergarten at a level with all socio-economic level children. The Head Start program is operated by local non-profit organizations in almost every county in the country. Children who attend Head Start participate in a variety of educational activities. They also receive free medical and dental care, have healthy meals and snacks and enjoy playing indoors and outdoors in a safe setting.
- Head Start helps all children succeed. Services are offered to meet the special needs of children with disabilities. Most children in Head Start are between the ages of three and five years old. Services are also available to infants and toddlers in selected sites.
What can the Head Start Program offer to your child?
- Head Start provides children with activities that help them grow mentally, socially emotionally and physically. The Head Start staff recognizes that, as parents, you are the first and most important teachers of your children. They will welcome your involvement in Head Start activities and will work as partners with you to help your child progress.
- Head Start staff members offer your child love, acceptance, understanding and the opportunity to learn to experience success. Head Start children socialize with others, solve problems and have other experiences which help them become self-confident. The children also improve their listening and speaking skills.
- The children spend time in stimulating settings where they form good habits and enjoy playing with toys and working on tasks with classmates. Your child will leave Head Start more prepared for kindergarten, excited about learning and ready to succeed.
- Your Head Start child will also be examined by skilled professionals for any health problems. Professionals will arrange vision and hearing test and any needed immunizations. Head Start offers nutrition assessments and dental exams as well. Children with health needs receive follow-up care.
- Mental health and other services are available for children and families special needs.would be your child’s routine in a Head Start program?
- Most children who enroll in Head Start attend a half-day center-based program. However, some communities may operate a full day program or provide Head Start services through a home-based setting. In a home-based setting program, staff called Home Visitors teach parents how to provide learning experiences for their own children.
- Some center-based programs offer children bus rides to and from home. When the children arrive at a center, they are greeted warmly by their teachers. They put whatever they have brought from home in a place which is their own to use every day.
- Classroom time includes many different activities. Some teachers begin the day by asking the children to sit in a circle. This encourages the children to talk about an idea or an experience they want to share with others. In some centers, the children plan their activities. They may choose among art, playing with blocks or table toys, science activities, dancing to music, looking at books or pretend housekeeping. Children can switch activities if they prefer another challenge.
- Each day, they have time to work in a small group with other children and to play outdoors on safe playground equipment.
- At lunchtime, children receive a nutritious meal and brush their teeth. All the children are taught to wash their hands before meals and are encouraged to develop good personal health habits. If they come for an afternoon session, they also receive a health snack.
What can Head Start offer your family?
- Head Start offers you a sense of belonging, other support services and a chance to be involved in activities to help your whole family. You can take part in training classes on many subjects, such as child rearing, job training, learning about health and nutrition and using free resources in your own community. Some parents learn the English language; others learn to read. Head Start also offers assistance to parents interested in obtaining a high school General Equivalency Diploma (GED) or other adult education opportunities.
- If you have a family member with a special problem, such as drug or alcohol abuse, job loss or other family crisis, your family can receive help through Head Start.
- Head Start staff members refer families needing help to medical, social welfare or employment specialists they know in the community and will follow up to be sure you receive assistance.
- You can become a Head Start volunteer and learn more about child development. This experience may later qualify you for training which can help you find employment in the child care field.
- You can also have a voice in the Head Start program by serving on various committees. Parent’s experience in Head Start have raised their own self-confidence and improved their ability to make decisions.
About CVCA Head Start
The program operates eight classrooms that serve 157 children, a HS home-based program serving ten children, and an EHS home-based program serving 10 children. Centers are located throughout the county to ensure equitable access to the program. The Raven Center, housing one classroom, is located inside of Raven Elementary School. The Richlands Center, which has two classrooms, is located on the campus of Southwest Virginia Community College. The Tazewell Center, with three classrooms, is located on Tazewell Avenue. Finally, the Camp Joy Center, housing two classrooms, is located in the Springville area on the grounds of Camp Joy.
Early Head Start
The Early Head Start Center, serving eight children, is located within the CVCA Main Office in North Tazewell. Children sixteen months through age three are eligible to attend the center. The home-based program serves twenty-four children ages birth to three and/or pregnant mothers from throughout the county.
Philosophy for Head Start/Early Head Start
- That it is the right of young children to have access to a quality early childhood program without cost to the family.
- That society must be sensitive and responsive to the social and economic changes that have created the need for many children to “have a head start”.
- That the community must be responsible for the nurture and early education of young children who qualify for Head Start and Early Head Start.
- That it is the right of Head Start and Early Head Start children to participate in services that enhance their health and social, emotional, developmental and motor growth.
- That the Head Start/Early Head Start program must respect and uphold the dignity and authority of parents.
- That it is the right of Head Start/Early Head Start children that centers be managed according to regulations and staffed with qualified personnel. These centers should provide a clean, orderly environment with age appropriate furnishings and facilities that meet children’s needs.
- That the unique creative and social talents of each child are an asset to society and that his/her self-esteem and self-confidence are worthy of nurture.
- That play is children’s work – their way of discovering, creating order and communication – and that young children best learn through “hands on” experiences.
- That a key component to early childhood education and school readiness is an environment that is rich in opportunity for expanding in numeracy, reasoning, pre-literacy skills and language. This environment helps to provide children with a means of communication, expression, problem solving and a foundation for reading.
- The Head Start Child Outcomes Framework is a guide for ongoing assessment. Progress and accomplishments will be analyzed and used in the program’s self-assessment and continuous improvement plans.
- That the developmental and educational needs of Head Start and Early Head Start children will be identified and met through an ongoing process of screening, observation, assessment, planning, goal development and individualization.
- That the Head Start Outcomes Framework will be utilized as a guide for individual and program progress, self-assessment, planning, and continuous improvement.
- That each child has a unique pattern of growth, development and learning which cannot be speeded up, but Head Start/Early Head Start can provide a program that accommodates different rates of learning, growth, and development.
- That all activities be based on appropriate sequenced objectives delivered through play and communication with staff, with process rather than product being the goal.
- That acceptable behavior be developed and maintained through a learning environment that is appropriate for the developmental stages of children and offers adequate reinforcement for acceptable behavior.
- To ensure that children are treated with dignity and respect, positive discipline will be utilized within developmentally appropriate limits, focus will be placed on important things to help define time and space limits, and reasons will be provided for rules and limits.
- That all children, regardless of developmental and physical differences, sex, or religious heritage are worthy of love, respect, and opportunities for development of their potential.
- That Head Start/Early Head Start will encourage the family to expand its network of support, help the family acquire new skills, and involve all family members as team players in activities which support the family.
- That Head Start/Early Head Start will make the family the senior partner, identify family strengths, and initiate relationships with families through conversations, not interviews.
- That Head Start/Early Head Start’s goal is to work with families to strengthen, not to substitute for, family responsibilities.
- Head Start/Early Head Start will provide a safe and nurturing environment that promotes the physical, social, emotional and cognitive development of young children, while responding to the needs of the family, regardless of race, creed, sex, or special needs.