Young children are amazing learners, soaking up everything in their environment like sponges. Crawling, chattering, playing peek-a-boo and hide and seek - everything the child is doing is developing skills! While infants and toddlers are learning important physical skills and coordination, they’re also developing speech, studying social cues, and learning emotional expression.
Twenty-five years ago Head Start was expanded to include Early Head Start (EHS) programs, serving pregnant women and infants and toddlers under the age of 3. EHS programs provide comprehensive child development and family support services to low-income infants and toddlers and their families, and to pregnant women and their families.
Early Head Start programs are designed to nurture healthy attachments between the parent/caregiver and the child. Services begin when a pregnant woman enrolls in the program and continue through the child’s third birthday. EHS home visitors provide pre-natal and postpartum information, including information on breastfeeding.
Northwest Community Action Partnership operates EHS as an entirely home-based program. Home-based services offer an opportunity to work with a family in their own environment. Home visitors work directly with parents, the most important people in the world to the child, in the setting that has the most meaning to the family. EHS home visitors serve 24 families in Box Butte County.
The home visitor comes weekly for 90 minutes and brings educational services and other resources to the family, recognizing that parents are a child’s best teacher. Families see positive outcomes in child development, family well-being, positive parenting, health, school success, and economic stability. Parents are trained to weave learning moments into their family’s daily routines.
The CDC has established milestones that a child should reach by certain ages. These milestones are sorted into four areas: Social and emotional, Language and Communications, Movement and physical development, and Cognitive, which is learning, thinking, and problem solving. Home visitors can help a family track milestones and help when certain skills are not being learned. They can also make referrals when more assistance is necessary.
Head Start’s success hinges on the incredible collaborative partners in the region who provide additional services to the children and families and work closely with classroom staff to ensure that all the children’s and family’s needs are addressed.
Head Start and Early Head Start are now accepting applications. One of the things you will be asked to share is proof of your household income. If you qualify for SNAP or WIC, you will qualify for Head Start. For more information about the Head Start Programs, please call 308-432-3393.
In 1964 President Johnson declared War on Poverty, and in 1965 Head Start was established to help break the cycle of generational poverty, providing preschool children of low-income families with a program designed to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs. Who could have dreamed that by 2020 Head Start would have served more than 36 million children!