Early Head Start
Federally funded Head Start and Early Head Start and Washington's state funded Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) are family centered preschool programs for children from low-income families. Most children are between the ages of three and five years old, with infants and toddlers in selected sites. Full-day child care services are being made available through partnerships with community child care providers.
Programs are comprehensive:
Children's Services: Children learn the skills and concepts they need to succeed in school. They spend time in an enriched learning environment that emphasizes early literacy, cognitive and social skills while partnering with families. The children also receive help accessing medical and dental care, have healthy meals and snacks, and enjoy playing indoors and outdoors in a safe setting.
- Family and Community Services: Families are offered a sense of belonging, other support services, and a chance to be involved in activities to help their whole family. Trainings are offered on many subjects such as child development, job readiness, learning about health and nutrition, and using free resources in the community. Staff members can refer families needing help to medical, social welfare, or employment specialists they know in the community, and will follow-up to be sure services are received.
Programs also include:
- nutrition services including meals and snacks
- health screenings and follow-up
- social development and problem solving skills
Head Start/ECEAP serves at-risk children. Services are offered to meet the special needs of children with disabilities. Programs can serve children who are at risk for such reasons as neglect, abuse, or disabling conditions, regardless of family income. Head Start serves severely disabled children.
Head Start/ECEAP values diversity: Cultural awareness is a vital component of all aspects of Head Start/ECEAP. Children's family backgrounds are honored, and in the classroom they learn about one another's family traditions. Where English is not the first language, every attempt will be made to provide translators.
What are the benefits: Head Start/ECEAP provides children with activities to help them grow mentally, socially, emotionally, and physically. The Head Start/ECEAP staff recognizes that parents are the first and most important teachers of their children. They welcome parent involvement in activities, and work as partners with parents to help children progress.
Head Start/ECEAP staff members offer children love, acceptance, understanding, and the opportunity to learn and to experience success. Children socialize with others, solve problems, and have other experiences which help them become self-confident. Children also improve their listening and speaking skills.