Head Start is a federally-funded, high quality child and family development program that promotes the school readiness of low-income children 3-5 years of age by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development in learning environments that support children’s growth in language, literacy, math, science, social and emotional functioning, creative arts, physical skills, and approaches to learning.
Head Start also provides children and their families with health, educational, nutritional, social, and other services that are determined, based on family needs assessments, to be necessary.
At least 10% of enrollment opportunities are made available for children with disabilities. Head Start recognizes the importance of family-focused early intervention and strives to build upon the strengths of each family. Services and opportunities to children and families are provided through Head Start’s major service areas which include:
Education: Provides a variety of developmentally appropriate learning experiences to foster intellectual, social and emotional growth through center-based option
Transition: Provides children and parents with information and educational opportunities to prepare them for entrance into the public school system
Disabilities Services: Ensures that children with disabilities receive the full range of developmental services in an inclusive environment
Health/Nutrition: Emphasizes the importance of early identification and treatment of health problems and comprehensive health care
Mental Health: Recognizes the importance of providing mental health and psychological services to children and parents to encourage emotional and social development
Parent Involvement: Recognizes parents as the primary educator of their child and the most important influence in their child’s lives, parental involvement is encouraged at all levels
Social Services: Provides a wide range of education and training opportunities and referral and support services to meet identified family needs
Jefferson-Clarion Head Start staff are committed to making the transition from Head Start to Kindergarten as smooth and successful as possible for both children and their families. To facilitate this transition, teachers utilize the Creative Curriculum that is aligned with the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards and to provide continuity between Head Start and Kindergarten. This curriculum also provides tools that allow teachers to individualize lessons and activities for each child. This assures that each child is receiving appropriate challenges, that will allow these children to learn at their fullest potential.
School readiness goals have been identified for children in a variety of domains that are aligned with the Head Start Early Learning Framework and Pennsylvania’s Early Learning Standards. All enrolled children are assessed three times each year utilizing Teaching Strategies Gold. Results of these assessments are aggregated and analyzed at the program and center levels. Teachers use the assessments to formulate goals within each child’s Individual Curriculum Plan and review them with the parents.
Jefferson-Clarion Head Start, Inc. also maintains open communication and cooperation with parents, early intervention programs, and local school districts. Our goal is to ensure a smooth transition and seamless provision of services for all preschool children. Some of these responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
• Transition/Education Advisory Committee meeting that occur twice a year
• Assistance with Kindergarten registrations
• The transfer of Passport to Kindergarten portfolios, with parental consent, at transition meetings with Head Start staff and incoming Kindergarten programs
• Field trips to new school settings
• Dissemination of information and activity packets, at the end of the year, to help parents work with their child during the summer months to maintain the school readiness skills obtained in Head Start.
All of our Head Start classrooms are STAR4
(Standards, Training/Professional Development, Assistance, Resource, and Support).
Many opportunities exist during the year for Parent Engagement which has and will continue to be an area of major emphasis. First and foremost, many parents and guardians of enrolled children participated as volunteers in the classroom throughout the year with some parents having successfully completed our structured Volunteer /Employment Training Program. Additional opportunities for parents to be directly involved with their child’s development occurred through parent-staff conferences and home visits, effective participation of parents who worked in the home with their own children utilizing individualized activities sent home or those learned from workshops, flyers and newsletters.
Many parents participated in various workshops and trainings such as:
• Family Storytelling
• CPR Training
• Words Matter
• Clothing Drive
• Positive Parenting Solutions
Parents also participated in Policy Council, Center Parent Committee, or on various advisory committees for the program. In doing so, they had the opportunity to become an integral part of discussing program policies, service area reports, and program planning, as well as child and adult educational activities, health, transportation and mental health information. Additionally, parents participated in experiences and educational activities which led to their own development in areas such as child and family nutrition, prevention of child abuse, transitioning children into kindergarten, preventative medical and dental care, home safety practices, asset building, family literacy, and community resources including links to adult education and employment training.
The Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP) grant provides state funding to Head Start programs with the purpose of supplementing federal allocations to expand high quality pre-kindergarten Head Start services for children meeting eligibility requirements throughout Pennsylvania. Jefferson-Clarion Head Start, Inc. currently operates three HSSAP classrooms in Jefferson and Clarion counties.