Frequently Asked Questions About Head Start (page 4)
1. Q: Is My Child Eligible for Head Start or Early Head Start?
A: Children from birth to age five from families with low income, according to the Poverty Guidelines published by the federal government, are eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services.
Children in foster care, homeless children, and children from families receiving public assistance (TANF or SSI) are categorically eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services regardless of income. Head Start programs may enroll up to 10% of children from families that have incomes above the Poverty Guidelines. Programs may also serve up to an additional 35% of children from families whose incomes are above the Poverty Guidelines, but below 130% of the poverty line if the program can ensure that certain conditions have been met. Pregnant women may also be eligible for Early Head Start.
2. Q: How Do I Find a Head Start Program Near Me?
A: If you need help finding a Head Start program in your area, call Head Start Knowledge and Information Management Services toll-free at 1-866-763-6481, or you may use the online national Head Start Program Locator Tool at Head Start Locator.
3. Q: Are Children in Foster Care Eligible for Head Start?
A: Children in foster care are Head Start eligible, regardless of family income.
4. Q: Does Head Start Accept Children with Disabilities or Special Needs?
A: The Head Start Act of 2007 requires that, beginning in fiscal year 2009 (i.e. beginning October 1, 2008) "not less than 10 percent of the total number of children actually enrolled by each Head Start agency and each delegate agency will be children with disabilities who are determined to be eligible for special education and related services, or early intervention services...by the State or local agency providing services under section 619 or part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA] (20 U.S.C. 1419, 1431 et seq.)."
5. Q: What If My Income Level Is Higher Than the Poverty Guidelines?
A: Head Start programs may enroll up to 10% of children from families that have incomes above the Poverty Guidelines. Programs may also serve up to an additional 35% of children from families whose incomes are above the Poverty Guidelines, but below 130% of the poverty line if the program can ensure that certain conditions described in the section 645 (a)(1)(B)(iii)(II) of the Head Start Act have been met.
6. Q: What Are the Other Options If My Child Is Ineligible For Head Start?
A: If you are ineligible for Head Start, the Child Care Aware program can help you in locating other childcare services in your community. To find the local child care resource and referral agency, please contact Child Care Aware toll-free at 800-424-2246.
7. Q: How Can I Get Involved with Head Start?
A: Head Start welcomes volunteers. By becoming a volunteer you can help in the classroom and on field trips, assist in renovating centers, and support parent education. Your volunteer experience may later qualify you for training which can help you find employment in the child care field. For information about volunteering please contact your local Head Start program. To locate a program near you visit the online national Head Start Program Locator Tool at Head Start Locator.
8. Q: Is There a Head Start Program Near Me?
A. There are Head Start programs nationwide. Please refer to the Head Start Locator to find the nearest Head Start program.
9. Q: What Can Head Start Offer My Family?
A. 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. Parents' experiences in Head Start have raised their own self-confidence and improved their abililty to make decisions.
10. Q: What Would Be My Child's Routine in a Head Start Program?
A. 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 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 the 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 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 and health habits. If they come for an afternoon session, they also receive a healthy snack.
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Health and Human Services.
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