Having a family involves many expenses. Unfortunately, not everyone has the ability to deal with the expenses that come along with having children. This includes paying for child care. Pre-schools are infamous for being expensive. The average expense for preschool is $889 a month. That would add up to spending more than $10,000 per year! This is why there are federal programs that can support individuals to manage this cost. One popular program that can help people deal with child care is Head Start.
What is Head Start?
Head Start programs can assist eligible low-income babies, toddlers, and children in pre-school to prepare for school. Head Start programs can happen in a lot of different environments. This includes family childcare centers, the kids’ actual home, and so on. Other than primarily concentrating on the kids, It highlights engaging parents and other members of the family to build strong relationships for the family’s well-being. The best part of these programs is that parents can step up and help decide how the program works for their kids.
What are the Different Head Start Programs?
Head Start programs highlight three main components for kids, which includes:
- Early Education and Development
- Household Well Being
Early Education and Development
Kids learn a lot from their surrounding environment, which is why these programs make an effort to improve a kid’s preparation for school. These programs know how important it is for children to establish a good relationship with adults. Other than that, these programs highlight how important it is to establish planned-out yet fun instruction and guidance for children. Common areas of development that Head Start programs help children with include:
- Social Skills
- Emotional Wellness
- Language and Literacy Skills
- Mathematics and Science Concepts
Other than shedding light on some basic skills, these programs also concentrate on early learning experiences. This means enhancing the parent’s information about their kids. When parents or primary guardians know more about their kids, they will create a more customized approach. Additionally, these programs focus on making sure that children transition easily when they get to kindergarten!
All families function differently, which is why there are many times when household well-being reaches an all-time low. Head Start programs aim to give parents and households the chance to reach household goals with support services. These goals can include the following:
- Housing and Financial Security
- Advancing Education
- Strong Family Relationships
Head Start programs offer kids the chance to have a healthy and secure educational experience in inside and outside settings. Additionally, there are other healthcare advantages such as:
- Medical Screenings
- Nutritious Food and Meals
- Associates of Medical, Dental, and Mental Health Services
Other than concentrating on kids, Head Start programs can also support households with consultation for mental health. This consultation can support kids when going through trauma and allow households to pay attention to their children’s needs.
What to Know About Head Start
Now that you understand the idea of Head Start programs, let us take a deeper look at these opportunities. Head Start programs are free of charge and accessible to eligible low-income kids from the day they were born until they reach the age of five. Depending on which Head Start program, there might even be transportation services for children who take part in the program on a regular basis. Additionally, Head Start programs are accessible to kids with disabilities, special needs, kids in foster care, along with households with kids that are going through homelessness.
Head Start programs are accessible to the public across the United States. As a matter of fact, these programs can offer support services thanks to agencies that are in local communities. Usually, schools, non-profit organizations, or community action agencies offer Head Start programs. These programs assisted millions of children and offered services to more than 1 million kids per year across the nation.
Additionally, it is important to remember that Head Start programs do not all have the same features. Depending on which community it serves, there are a variety of program types. Some popular kinds of Head Start programs are:
- Head Start
- American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) Head Start
- Early Head Start (EHS)
- Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS)
This is what most individuals imagine when they think of the Head Start program. The Head Start program can support children from the age of three to five. Usually, centers provide these programs. On the other hand, based on the particular Head Start program, the services they provide can differ. For instance, some kids and households could receive services from experts such as educational professionals or family service staff that conduct home visits.
American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) Head Start
As mentioned above, Head Start programs differ based on community needs. This is why AIAN Head Start programs exist! Back in 1965, these AIAN programs were established in 34 AIAN communities to receive assistance. As a matter of fact, there are currently about 41,000 kids of AIAN descendants that gained support from both AIAN and non-tribal assistance options. Since AIAN Head Start programs focus explicitly on the community, these programs can offer benefits for traditional language skills, cultural behaviors, and honor the cultural heritage of AIAN kids.
Early Head Start (EHS)
Every phase of childhood development leads to different requirements. For instance, an infant cannot eat solid food while children can. This is why there are EHS programs because it aims to cover the needs of newborns, toddlers, and pregnant women. EHS programs are accessible for households until their kids reach the age of three. In the case that the household still qualifies for the EHS program, they can move towards other Head Start programs, rather than the EHS programs. These other programs were established to help kids between the age of three and five.
Households that get assistance from EHS programs can usually assume to have services available in the child’s home. Weekly home visits are conducted to help contribute to the kids’ development and household goals. Pregnant women in this program can even gain prenatal assistance.
We might sound like we are repeating ourselves, but we are here to remind you that Head Start programs differ based on the area. Usually, the services are offered at home, but there are other programs that take place in centers.
Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS)
Households that participate in the agriculture sector can find support from this Head Start program. These MSHS programs take into account migrant farmworker households and seasonal farmworker households. This kind of Head Start has existed since 1967 and is currently receiving funds to help more than 30,000 children.
How to Qualify and How to Apply
Some people might not qualify for this program. Head Start programs are for those who reach or are lower than the poverty level. The Poverty Guidelines define the poverty level according to the federal government. If you are interested in applying for this program, you should look for the Head Start program in your area. You can always use the Head Start Locator that the government provides to look for the nearest program! If you need more help, get in touch with the phone number 866-763-6481 Monday through Friday (from 8 AM to 6 PM).
For your local program, they will provide information on eligibility requirements that is required to enroll your kid. The information they will present includes answering any questions you might have, offering your forms, and telling you about the documents you need to present. Due to the fact that this program can commonly help households in need, there is the chance that they do not have any spots left for your child. If that’s the case then you will want to try to get onto a waitlist to receive support!
Overall, you will benefit a lot from the Head Start programs as a parent with children. Head Start programs can assist eligible low-income babies, toddlers, and preschool kids to prepare for school. If you want more information about this opportunity, you can always reach out and look for the Head Start program in your area. However, you need to be at a certain level of poverty to qualify. Even if you do qualify, you might find your child’s spot unavailable because of the increasing demand for assistance. However, you should definitely consider applying, especially since it is free!