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Head Start Programs Overview

Population Served:

  • Three-and four-year-old children from low-income families. Family income is below or at the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) poverty guideline ($16,700 for a family of four in 1999).

    (Note: Other income eligible programs allow higher income. For example, families with income at 133% of the poverty guideline are eligible for free USDA school lunches, and families with income at 185% of poverty guideline are eligible for reduced price lunches.)
  • A minimum of 10% children with disabilities -- coordinated with Early Childhood Special Education

Services Provided:

Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten provides comprehensive services to children and families. Federal Head Start Performance Standards have been adopted into Oregon law.

  1. Education and Early Childhood Development

    Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten’s educational program is designed to meet each child’s individual needs. It also aims to meet the needs of the community served and its ethnic and cultural characteristics.

    Every child receives a variety of learning experiences to foster intellectual, social, and emotional growth. Activities develop language, pre-reading and writing skills, and basic number concepts. Children learn about the world around them and how to work together. Activities are designed to develop self-confidence and an interest in learning.

    Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten programs have a low child-staff ratio. Staff members receive training in child development and early childhood education.
  2. Child Health and Developmental Services
    Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten emphasizes the importance of ongoing heath care. Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten works with parents to identify a source of continuous health care. Programs supplement community resources available to provide every child with a comprehensive health care program including medical, dental, mental health, and nutrition services.
    1. Medical and Dental
      Programs assist parents to obtain complete medical and dental examinations and to complete immunizations. Vision and hearing screening tests are done. Referrals are made if potential disabling conditions are identified. Follow-up is provided for identified problems.
    2. Nutrition
      Nutrition education is a foundation of the Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten Program. Each classroom day, children are served a minimum of one hot meal and a snack which provide at least one third of their daily nutritional needs. A trained nutritionist supervises the nutrition activities of each Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten and helps the staff identify the nutritional needs of children. The nutritionist plans an educational program to teach parents how to select healthy food and how to obtain food stamps and other community assistance when needed.
    3. Mental Health
      Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten recognizes the importance of providing mental health and psychological services to children of low-income families in order to encourage their emotional and social development. A mental health professional must be available to every Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten to provide mental health training to staff and parents, and to make them aware of the need for early attention to the special problems of children.
  3. Parent Involvement

    Parents are the most important influence on a child’s development. An essential part of every Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten is the involvement of parents in parent education, program planning, and program operations. Parents serve as members of Policy Councils and have a voice in administrative and managerial decisions.

    Parents learn about the needs of their children and about educational activities that can be carried out at home, through participation in classes, workshops on child development, and staff visits to the home. Many parents also volunteer in Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten as classroom aides, social service helpers, cook assistants, bus assistants, parent involvement assistants, etc. They receive preference for employment in Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten for jobs for which they are qualified.
  4. Family Partnerships

    The family partnership component of Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten offers assistance to families to assess their strengths, interests, and needs and to provide services that build upon the individual strengths of families. Some of the activities of the family services staff include community outreach, referrals, assistance to families in setting goals, providing information about available community resources, recruiting and enrolling children, and providing emergency assistance and/or crisis intervention.
  5. Children With Disabilities

    A child with a disability can often learn more readily in a group with typically developing children. Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten requires each program to make available at least 10 percent of its child slots for children with disabilities.

    Children with disabilities and their families receive the full range of Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten developmental services. In addition, Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten staff members work closely with the local Early Childhood Special Education program to provide services to meet the special needs of the child with disabilities.
  6. Community Partnerships

    Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten recognizes the importance of coordinating the planning and delivery of services for children and families in each community to maximize each community’s strengths and address issues and needs. Programs work with parents and with other agencies to make the best use of community resources, to efficiently use grant funds, and to develop resources that are responsive to the needs of families and children.

Rev. 1/29/99


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