Head Start Services
The Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland welcomes you and your child to our Early Head Start ~ Head Start Program. Head Start is a national program that offers an excellent pre-school education as well as services in nutrition, health, social services, mental health & disabilities and parent involvement for children and families. This booklet is intended to provide information that will help you make your family’s involvement with our program successful.
The Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland Head Start Program promotes economic self-sufficiency among low-income families and individuals of Cuyahoga County. Its economic development, educational and human service programs support that goal.
CEOGC Head Start provides an atmosphere of mutual trust, support and stability. We will ensure that children, parents and staff are provided the opportunity and support to reach their fullest potential educationally, economically and socially.
PROGRAM PHILOSOPHY / GOALS
We believe that respecting diversity is one of Head Start’s strengths. We respect children and families of all cultures, races and ethnic backgrounds.
We are sensitive and responsive to children and families with special needs. We believe that each child should be given opportunities to develop to his/her highest potential.
We believe that enthusiasm, pride, love and understanding should characterize all human relationships.
We believe that the home and center environments are important in helping children learn.
We believe that children in our Head Start centers will learn to cooperate, think, accept responsibility, respect themselves and respect the rights of others.
Parents/guardians are provided with a unique opportunity in Head Start to participate in the program and planning decision-making process. Each parent/guardian who has a child enrolled in the Head Start program is automatically a member of the Parent Committee group at the respective center and are required to vote for Parent Committee Officers (Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Secretary & Treasurer). Parents/guardians are also elected by their peers to serve on the CEOGC County Wide Policy Council. The CWPC is made up primarily of parents/guardians to approve or disapprove pertinent issues such as the Head Start budget, the agency policies and procedures and hiring and termination of personnel.
Each center conducts monthly Parent Committee meetings in which parents/guardians plan the agenda and vote on decisions relating to their children. For more information on the election process, please see your Family Service Worker or contact the Parent Involvement Coordinator at (216) 696-9077.
Parent Training / Workshops
The Early Head Start / Head Start program offers a range of training and workshops for parents/guardians throughout the program year. Parents/guardians are invited to attend these informative and valuable sessions at each center. Please see the Parent Activities Calendar for scheduled dates and times.
Parents/guardians are encouraged to participate as volunteers in the Early Head Start / Head Start program. Parents/guardians can volunteer in the classroom, in the center, during field trips and by attending the monthly Parent Committee meetings. After three volunteer sessions in the classroom, parents/guardians are required to take a TB test that will be kept on file in the center.
The Early Head Start / Head Start program is required to provide a 20% non-federal share of the total cost to operate its program. These funds are earned through volunteer services and in-kind donations. When a parent/guardian volunteers, the volunteered time is recorded on a volunteer form (forms can be found in the classroom) and totaled at the end of each month. This calculation is translated into dollars for EHS / HS program. At the end of the program year, volunteers are recognized and receive a certificate and other awards for their participation during the Annual Volunteer Recognition Ceremony.
Grandparent & Kinship Caregivers
CEOGC recognizes that grandparents and kinship caregivers are caring for many of the children. Therefore, we are staffed with a Grandparent Navigator to help meet the needs of grandparents and caregivers. These family members are encouraged to participate in social activities, field trips, legal issues, workshops and information that foster advocacy for grandparents and kinship caregivers. For more information, please see your Family Service Worker or contact the CEOGC Grandparents Navigator at (216) 696-9077.
CEOGC recognizes the value of the male presence in the lives of preschool aged children. Therefore, we provide additional services and resources to the men in the program. All males – fathers, grandfathers, stepfathers, uncles, brothers, etc. are encouraged to participate in every aspect of the Early Head Start / Head Start program. Throughout the year, there are activities and functions scheduled specifically for significant males in the Early Head Start/Head Start child’s life such as Hoops and Hotdogs, Donuts for Dads, Reading is Fundamental, etc. The Parent Involvement Service Area recognizes that males may need help with resources, as a result males may contact the Parent Involvement Coordinator for referrals to community agencies that provide a particular service to meet their needs. For more information contact the Parent Involvement Coordinator at (216) 696-9077.
CEOGC Early Head Start / Head Start recognize the value of active learning experiences and developmentally appropriate activities to help children achieve their full potential. The High Scope curriculum best exemplifies this philosophy and is implemented in all CEOGC Early Head Start / Head Start classrooms. The schedule and activity plans are posted in the classroom for parent/guardians to view.
Parents/guardians are strongly encouraged to participate in planning activities/experiences for their child. In the Head Start program, family traditions and seasonal activities replace the celebration of traditional holidays.
The Head Start/Early Head Start staff will make two home visits per program year. Home visits are opportunities to get acquainted with the family on an individual basis. Parents/guardians have an opportunity to discuss their child’s development, express any concerns and set goals for the child and family.
Parent and Teacher Conferences
Parents / Teacher conferences are conducted twice a program year or more, as needed. This is an opportunity for parents to enhance their understanding and knowledge of their child’s educational development. Parents/guardians will become familiar with their child’s classroom experiences and academic milestones.
Parents/guardians are an essential part of the Early Head Start / Head Start experience and are welcomed to participate in all aspects of the program. Head Start recognizes that parents/guardians are their child’s first teachers. Head Start is committed to helping parents/guardians with the important job of parenting and becoming self-sufficient to provide for the family. Our staff is trained to assist families – our goal is to help identify needs, set goals and take steps to meet those goals. Parents/guardians are encouraged to ask staff about health / disability issues, job training, education goals, etc.
SUPERVISION OF CHILDREN
The CEOGC Early Head Start / Head Start staff have a major responsibility to ensure the health and safety of each child in their care. Staff persons are attentive to the needs of the children. Staff take appropriate precautionary and preventive measures to ensure that children are safe. At no time will a child be left unattended. Attendance is documented at all times throughout the day and throughout the building.
Supervision of Infants/Toddlers – Early Head Start Program
The Early Head Start program assigns one child care staff member to have primary responsibility for each group of infants or toddlers in care to assure continuity of care. Parents/guardians are informed of the primary caregiver assigned to their child. Any necessary information regarding their child’s care is exchanged between the primary caregiver and parent/guardian. Information is recorded on a daily basis for parents/guardians about their child on a daily information sheet for parents/guardians to review.
Family Service Workers and Health Service Area staff assist parents to establish a medical and dental home for their families. Any child with medical results noted on the completed physical examination that are identified as not within a normal range are shared with parents to bring that information to the attention of the families health care provider. Children are provided access to dental examinations from Case Western Reserve University at each individual Head Start Center.
Healthy habits are part of the daily routine. These daily habits include frequent and the correct methods of handwashing, supervised tooth brushing after meals and swishing after snack, awareness of transmission of germs by learning how to cough and sneeze into one's elbow or shoulder. Children have daily outside play except during inclement weather.
All staff are trained in first aid, communicable disease recognition and recognition of child abuse. In compliance with Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS), children who require medication or treatment during school hours, staff are trained by the parent how to administer medication or treatment to their child in conjunction with a completed health care plan.
Family and Community Partnership
The Family and Community Partnership are comprised of three service areas: Social Service, Parent Involvement/Male Involvement and Volunteer Services. These service areas work together to assist families with the enrollment process, family partnership goals, parent activities and volunteer projects. In an effort to provide prompt, courteous service to meet the needs of families, at least one Family Service Worker has been assigned to each Head Start site.
In the Early Head Start/Head Start program, parents/guardians are strongly encouraged to become the primary advocates for their children. Staff assists parents/guardians with issues related to children’s rights and safety. As a whole, the CEOGC Head Start program ensures that all children’s rights and the well being of their safety is protected during their time spent in the program.
Children’s Advocate Services
The center will maintain enrollment, health, attendance, and child history and parent/teacher conference information on each child. Records are confidential and are in a locked file, but upon written request are available for parents/guardians to review.
The Head Start Nutrition Service Area follows all rules and regulations set by the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program. Mealtimes serve as social and educational activities. Table conversation is focused on daily activities, child initiated topics, and discussion of food and health. Classroom staff eats with the children. Meals are served family-style and children participate in setting the table, serving themselves, cleaning up, etc. Children are encouraged to try new foods but are not forced to eat. Food is never used as a reward or punishment.
Meals are provided for all children in the centers and meet 1/3 to 2/3 of the daily nutritional requirements. Menus meet the USDA/CACFP food program regulations. In these program options, children enrolled receive:
Double Session – A.M. classes – breakfast and lunch
Double Session – P.M. classes – lunch and snack
Extended Day/Full Day Sessions – breakfast, lunch and snack
The cultural and religious needs of our general population are taken into consideration when menus are planned. Pork is not served at Head Start sites. Peanuts can be a highly allergic food; therefore peanuts are omitted from Head Start menus. Chocolate milk is not served to infants or toddlers.
NOTE: The children with any specific restrictions or food allergies must submit a statement from a physician. Parent or guardian of a child with any food allergy must complete a Health Care Plan with the Family Service Worker. If the child receives a modified diet or food supplement (i.e. Pediasure), they must have the physician complete the Request for Administration of Medication form.
Special diets/dietary needs require documentation from a medical doctor in order for these modifications to be implemented. Head Start will follow the regulations specified by ODJFS under 5101:2-12-31: Administration of medication in licensed child care centers (A)(1): Prescription medication, food supplements and modified diets: the center shall secure and follow the written instructions of a licensed physician, an advanced practice nurse certified to prescribe medication, or a licensed dentist on the JFS 01217 “ Request for Administration of Medication “ ( Rev.9/2005).
All instructions on this form shall be followed. The center shall also secure written instructions from the parent or guardian on the form.
Menu planning meetings are held once per year. Parent/guardians are invited to participate in the planning session. Notices regarding these meetings are posted at the sites.
The Head Start food program is a supplementary meal program and does not in any way replace meals the child eats in the home. If parents/guardians are unable to provide food in the home, they are encouraged to speak to a Family Service Worker for resources and may refer to the Community Resource Directory.
The Early Head Start program supports parental preferences in infant feeding including breast feeding and introduction of solid foods when developmentally appropriate. Each parent must sign an infant meal-parent preference letter. Parents will choose to provide their own iron-fortified formula, bring expressed breast milk, have the center provide iron-fortified formula or come to the center to breast feed. If formula is provided by WIC, parent should bring that formula to the site for their child. If breast-milk is provided by the parent/guardian, it shall be labeled with the child’s name and date of receipt and immediately frozen or refrigerated by staff of the Early Head Start program. Infant food is prepared and served in a manner appropriate to the developmental needs of each individual child according to his/her stage of development. All infants are fed on demand.
A toddler menu is posted in each classroom indicating which foods will be served each day. Children ages 1 and 2 will receive whole milk.- no chocolate milk. Children ages 3 to 5 will receive 1% milk. Meal service for the Early Head Start program follows all rules and regulations set by the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program.
RULES AND REGULATIONS FOR MEAL SERVICE
Parent/guardian may not bring food, prepared or unprepared, into the Early Head Start/ Head Start classroom for the children to eat unless prior approval, due to special circumstances, is granted by the Nutrition Coordinator.
Neither staff nor parent/guardians may take food or food supplies out of the Head Start / Early Head Start Center. The only exception to this rule is when bag lunches are taken with the children on field trips.
All children’s birthdays during the same month may be celebrated in the Early Head Start / Head Start classroom on one selected day during the month. If cake, cupcakes are served, they must be purchased from a bakery and brought to the center in the original package. Ice cream is permitted.
In Head Start, we promote healthy eating habits. We are concerned with food allergies. If parents bring in snacks/treats for special occasions these items will be sent home and consumed at the discretion of parent/guardian.
CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
CEOGC’s Early Head Start/ Head Start program makes available ten percent of its enrollment opportunities to children with special needs. Parents/guardians of children with diagnosed disabilities, developmental, social and/or emotional delays, etc., confers with the Family Service Worker/ Family Advocate at the center. The Family Service Worker/ Family Advocate notifies the Disability/ Mental Health Coordinator(s) and/or Early Head Start Coordinator. The designated coordinator meets with the family and a plan is developed specifically for the child to ensure a smooth transition occurs into the EHS/HS classroom.
Once a child enters the classroom and there’s a suspected disability, the following occurs with parent permission:
Children in Early Head Start (EHS), aged 6 weeks s – 3 years
A referral to Help Me Grow (HMG) occurs and a full evaluation is conducted. Once a child qualifies for services, an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) is developed to assist the child and the family with their specific need(s).
Children in Head Start, aged 3 – 5 years
A referral to the Local Education Agency (school district of the child’s residence) occurs, and a full evaluation is conducted. Once a child qualifies for services, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is developed to assist the child achieve goals specific to his/her educational need(s).
Early Head Start/ Head Start embrace a vision of mental wellness for the children and families served. CEOGC ensures that a mental health coordinator/professional conducts ongoing site visits, and provides consultation services to staff and parents on mental health issues, as needed. Special assistance is provided for children that show signs of atypical development, unhealthy attachment and/or social/emotional limitations. With parent permission, referrals to mental health agencies occur for children that are in need of specialized mental health services. In the event that parents/guardians wish to speak with the mental health coordinator/ professional, the coordinator’s monthly schedule is posted at each site for the parent and staff’s convenience.
In Head Start/Early Head Start, children begin a transitioning process. Transitioning can be from home to childcare, from infant/toddler class to preschool, from preschool to kindergarten. Any of these transitions can be trying, not only for the child, but also for the entire family. The Early Head Start/Head Start programs is dedicated to assisting families through these transitions in a variety of ways.
- Providing parents/guardians with activities to work on at home
- Providing training and resources to parents/guardians on how to help your child prepare for kindergarten
- Meeting with parents/guardians to plan the most successful way to help their children progress from one option to another
- Forwarding relevant information, with the parent’s/guardian’s approval, to whichever school/agency the child may be transferring
- Children transitioning from Early Head Start into Head Start will begin the transition process 6 months before the child’s third birth date. A transition plan will be completed for all children transitioning from Early Head Start into Head Start.
- Working with community agencies to assist families interested in enrolling their children into the Early Head Start/Head Start program options