Jefferson-Clarion Head Start, Inc. was awarded the Early Head Start grant in November 2009 through the American Reinvestment Recovery Act. Additionally, in 2011 we were awarded 24 more slots through the Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visitation Grant. Early Head Start is designed to provide high quality child and family development services to low-income pregnant women and families with infants and toddlers. Services are provided year-round, at no cost, to meet the health, educational, developmental, and social needs of children and families.
Our program operates a home-based model where parent educators visit families each week for 1 ½ hours, however, visits may vary for expectant parents. We also offer opportunities for parents and children to come together twice per month for Infant/Toddler Playtimes. Services are provided throughout Jefferson and Clarion Counties.
Home Visits focus on the following areas of School Readiness:
To promote positive parent-child relationships, a Parent Educator might:
- Bring helpful information/activities about bonding with your child
- Model ways to interact with children-for example; assisting you in reading with your child
- Model talking with your child-for example; describing what your child is doing: “You stacked 4 blocks. Great!”
- Assist you in observing your child’s strengths and give you tips for developing them
- Connect families with one or more of our Certified Educators of Infant Massage
Child Health and Safety
Parent Educators will provide information about the following:
- The importance-of well-baby check-ups and immunizations
- Recognizing a baby’s cues, such as knowing when your baby is hungry
- Proper childhood nutrition, including breastfeedingsupport
- Ways to childproof your home
Parent Educators can talk about:
- What is typical for a child’s age
- What to expect next in your child’s development
- Preparing for preschool
- Positive discipline strategies
- Common childhood issues like sleeping or toilet training
Parent Educators or other EHS staff may assist you in setting goals such as:
- Job search or education goals
- Stress management and coping with problems
- Transportation to Playtimes or Medical appointments
Services to Pregnant Women and Expectant Families
Parent Educators and our EHS staff can also perform home visits or assist in providing support/transportation to prenatal visits. Services include:
- Education on fetal development
- Education on nutrition and breastfeeding
- Assistance in preparing siblings for baby’s arrival
- Assistance in preparing a birthing plan
- Education on the effects of smoking, alcohol, and drug use during pregnancy
Services to Families and Children with Special Needs/Disabilities
At least 10% of enrollment opportunities are made available to children with special needs. Early Head Start staff work closely with parents, professionals and other agencies to ensure children receive comprehensive services. Parent Educators and Early Head Start staff will work with parents to provide education on advocacy and will provide activities and resources to help children with disabilities reach their full potential. We served a total of 36 children with an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) in 2011-2012 School Year.
Early Head Start recognizes the importance of providing mental health support to infants, toddlers and their families through caring, long-term relationships established by staff and certified mental health professionals. The quality of the parent-child relationship is the most important aspect of infant mental health promotion, prevention and treatment. To help with this positive relationship building, newborns and their parents are given an opportunity to participate in infant massage classes. These classes are conducted in the home by Early Head Start staff who are Certified Educators of Infant Massage. Parents are educated on the importance of touch and the strokes used to massage an infant, how massage aides in the bond and attachment that occurs between a child and parent, discusses “gentle movements” and crossing the mid-line which promotes brain development and offers ways to aid a baby that may suffer from colic or tummy problems.
Beginning six months prior to a toddler’s third birthday, a comprehensive transition process begins with each family. Staff work with families to ensure a smooth transition occurs into Head Start or another preschool program. Some of the activities involved in the transition plan are: educating parents about “getting ready” for preschool, visiting a preschool classroom, completing a Passport to Preschool which is given to the incoming preschool classroom and every child receiving a social story book about their new preschool classroom.
Many opportunities were provided this year for Parent Involvement in the Early Head Start Program. Parents, pregnant women, and guardians play an integral role in all of the activities Early Head Start offers. First and foremost parents are active participants in all activities during home visits and Infant/Toddler Playtimes. During home visits and playtimes parents become active observers/teachers of their children. Parent educators provide opportunities to nurture parent/child relationships and build on the skills that families already have. Families have participated in experiences and educational activities which led to their own development in areas such as using their home as a learning environment, infant/toddler and family nutrition, prevention of child abuse, transitioning children to preschool, preventative medical and dental care, home safety practices, prenatal care and fetal development, finance, family literacy, community resources including links to adult education and employment training. In addition to these opportunities, Early Head Start parents have participated in Policy Council, parent meetings, advisory committees/councils and numerous training events throughout the year. These experiences gave parents opportunities to participate in program planning, reviewing program policies, service area reports, as well as child and adult educational activities, health, transportation and mental health information.
RESULTS OF MOST RECENT FEDERAL ON-SITE REVIEW
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) conducted an on-site review of our Early Head Start program during March of 2011. It was determined that we were in full compliance with all Head Start Program Performance Standards, laws, regulations and policy requirements. An area of strength, that was noted, was the provision of transportation for families in need of medical, dental and pre-natal services.