Head Start is a program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. Through Head Start grant funding, schools and early childhood education centers provide comprehensive education, nutrition, health, and parental engagement services to low- income children and families. Head Start early education programs support children from birth to age 5. Many Head Start programs help families access social and crisis supports, including housing assistance, parenting education, English as a second language, job training, mental health services and substance abuse prevention.
In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “War on Poverty.” As part of this effort, he appointed Robert Sargent Shriver Jr. to serve as the director of the Office of Economic Opportunity. Shriver worked with experts in the field of childhood development, including doctors and pediatricians, to design a program that would provide preschool children and their families with a comprehensive program to meet social, emotional, health, nutritional and psychological needs.
Since its inception in 1965, Head Start has provided comprehensive childhood development services to more than 36 million children. In 1975, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published the Head Start Performance Standards. The federal government reauthorized the Head Start program in 2007 with bipartisan support.
The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) is the Head Start and Early Head Start grantee for Clay, Platte and Jackson counties. Grant funding is from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. MARC Head Start contracts with 17 community-based centers and school district programs to provide direct services, forming a network for improving the well-being of 2400 young children and their families. MARC is one of many Head Start grantees across the United States.
Nearly 90 percent of a child’s brain develops by age 5. These are critical years to build social, emotional, cognitive, special and language skills. When children participate in a high-quality early childhood education program, the benefits exceed beyond childhood.
Head Start provides comprehensive, high-quality early education services that facilitate healthy development including physical and social/emotional development and prepare children for school success.
Education coordinator/coaches offer support and oversight for Education Services. They coach teachers and home visitors to provide engaging learning environments, play-based experiences, and effective interactions with young children. They also coordinate developmental screenings, observation-based assessment, analysis of child outcomes data, family style dining, continuity of care for infants and toddlers, and parents.
We engage families in partnerships that support the health growth and development of children, parents and the community. This begins with developing relationships and focusing on goals families create with program staff and engaged community partners.