A Head Start for Little Ones

While our little darlings may be the lights of our lives, it isn’t unusual for parents to wish for a little “tech support” to help make their futures brighter.

One of Tulsa’s best options available to families for education and comprehensive support services are the Head Start and Early Head Start programs implemented through Family & Children’s Services.

Using comprehensive early education programs, Head Start helps children develop emotional, physical, social and cognitive skills in a stimulating setting. Participants receive daily breakfasts and lunches, and gain from the extensive developmental curriculum.

Children also receive free screenings for vision and hearing. Qualifying families pay nothing for these services. For working parents, the centers—19 locations in all—offer before and after care, too, but there is a private weekly payment charge for those extra hours.

“There are so many value-added programs that you don’t get through a daycare,” says Julee Nelson, recruitment specialist at Family & Children’s Services. “We are an early childhood education center.”

The total well-being of a child is considered. For ages 0 to 3, that includes using positive models to promote both education and good mental health, including: sharing, relationship-building and body safety. Educators also partner with parents to help children build independence.

One of the value-added programs provides home-based professionals to make “house calls” to work with stay-at-home parents to improve educational opportunities. Important developmental milestones are discussed, giving stay-at-home parents information they need to promote early childhood development.

The professional training staff focuses on individual care, working on each child’s social development. Low student/teacher ratios allow for the preparation of individual education plans, and staff members are trained to help children with disabilities.

Additionally, every classroom includes mixed ages with mixed learning to help children. If a child is slow to potty-train, for example, the professionals will work with the child to meet this milestone with creative curriculum, and the child will also learn by watching the other children.

Head Start also offers extensive and comprehensive family support, helping parents and guardians find community resource information. Family support specialists offer parent education and training, employment resources and financial management. There are also support groups, crisis intervention, parent meetings, and adult education, such as English as a Second Language (ESL) and GED classes.

According to Nelson, families interested in the program need to bring a birth certificate, updated immunization records, proof of address, and proof of income (check stub receipts are accepted, but previous year’s tax records are preferred).

The early childhood round-up for Tulsa’s Head Start program began the first week in April, targeting 4-year-olds getting ready to enter school this fall, but enrollment for all ages runs throughout the year.

Children from birth to age 4 are eligible. Find out how to receive a real head start on learning.

For more information, or to find a nearby center location, call Family & Children’s Services at 585-3227. Bilingual enrollment services are available.

Categories: Education – Early Years, Little Ones