PCA Head Start has a long tradition of delivering comprehensive and high quality services designed to foster the healthy development of children. The program has twelve centers within DeKalb and
Central program administration is located in
There is administrative and secretarial support staff located at the Central Office and each center has an assigned Center Coordinator and at least one Family Advocate.
PCA Head Start provides children and families a multitude of opportunities to participate in a broad range of individualized services within the program. Child development, health services (medical, dental, mental health and nutrition) and family development are some of the many services offered. Additionally, program staff and administration ensure that the range of services is responsive and appropriate to each child and family’s ethnic and cultural heritage.
PCA Head Start has 197 staff members. This does not include administrative staff. Forty Head Start staff are either current or former Head Start parents.
Of this number, 129 (65%) hold an Associate’s, Baccalaureate’s, advance degree or the National Child Development Associate Credential. The areas of discipline include the child development, business administration, health education, nutrition, psychology, human resources, family consumer sciences, and elementary education. Many other staff members are currently enrolled in academic coursework to complete AA and BA degrees in early childhood education.
PCA Head Start is committed to cultivating community partnerships. Networks are established with community agencies and organizations that provide child development, family support, education, and health services. PCA Head Start insures children and families receive a broad spectrum of individualized services and effectively utilize community resources.
Head Start parents are served within the context of their communities. Parent are provided with a variety of opportunities for continuing education, employment training and other services through formal and informal community networks. The rationale for developing Head Start/Community Partnerships is to improve the delivery of community services for children and families, avoid duplication of services and utilize available dollars to the greatest possible extent.
Child Development Services
The overall objective of child development services is to provide all children with a safe, nurturing, engaging, enjoyable, and secure learning environment. This ensures that they gain the awareness, skills, and confidence necessary to succeed in their present environment and in life.
PCA Head Start endorses the tenet that each child must be treated as an individual in an inclusive community that values, respects, and responds to diversity. The variety of experiences provided by the program support the continuum of children’s growth and development; including physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development. The program’s approach to child development insures the developmental and linguistic appropriateness of children’s activities. PCA Head Start recognizes that children have individual rates of development as well as individual interests, temperaments, languages, cultural backgrounds and learning styles. Because of this, the Creative Curriculum is used to support classroom teachers in providing the most conducive environment for learning.
A variety of screening procedures are conducted within 45 calendar days upon your child’s entry into the program. All screenings are done in collaboration with the parents. The purpose of screening is to identify any parental or teacher concerns regarding a child’s development, sensory (visual and auditory), behavioral, motor, language, social, cognitive, perceptual, and emotional skills. Screening materials are linguistically and age appropriate – to the greatest extent possible we remain sensitive to the child’s cultural background.
Head Start Program
PCA Head Start has been providing comprehensive child and family services for 40 years in metro
Because of these trends, PCA Head Start has expanded its enrollment since the earlier years and is funded to provide services to a minimum of 1163 infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and pregnant mothers. The program serves a diverse population in terms of culture, ethnicity, and language. Families must meet federal income guidelines and live within the program’s service area in order for their children to participate in the program. PCA’s Early Head Start program enrolls children from six weeks to age 3 and pregnant mothers. Children must be three or four years old by September 1 to enroll in the PCA Head Start program. At the time of application, parents must provide proof of the child’s age, immunization record, and family income for the previous 12 months.
Child Health Services
PCA Head Start encompasses a comprehensive vision of health for children, families, and staff. This is accomplished through collaborative efforts among families, staff, and health professionals to insure all child health and development concerns are identified. Children and families are linked to ongoing sources of continuous accessible care that meet their basic health needs while in the program. Medical homes are established with the family to promote healthy development long after the family leaves Head Start.
Health services include physical examinations, vision screens/exams, hearing screens, and dental examinations. Follow-up treatment is provided for identified medical and/or dental problems.
Staff, community partners and parents play an increasingly important role in helping families advocate for health needs within a complex and changing health care system. Head Start helps promote families’ advocacy skills by:
Identifying and documenting health concerns.
Networking with other families who may have similar needs.
Identifying available resources for information and services.
Effectively communicating with health professionals.
The PCA Head Start program has operated under a Congressional mandate since 1972 to make a minimum of 10% of its enrollment opportunities available to children with disabilities. The program serves children in integrated developmentally appropriate environments.
The Disabilities Service Plan and written Head Start/School District Memorandum of Agreement’s describe a variety of strategies for meeting the special needs of children with disabilities.
Children meeting disabilities eligibility criteria and enrolled in PCA’s Head Start, receive the full range of health, dental, nutritional, developmental, parent involvement, and social services. Head Start has a specific mandate to recruit and enroll income-eligible children and children with disabilities who are most in need of services. This includes children with severe disabilities. Head Start coordinates with the Local Education Agency’s (LEA) and other groups to benefit children with disabilities and their families. Head Start is committed to providing financial support for children with disabilities in order to meet their special needs. Services will be provided in full, either directly or by a combination of Head Start funds and other resources.
PCA Head Start offers parents opportunities and support for growth. An integral component of this area is assisting families with goal setting through the family partnership agreement process.
There is a strong element of relationship building in this area. PCA Head Start, through the Family Advocates, serves as a bridge to link families and resources together. These resources can be in the areas of education, employment, opportunities or with emergency/crisis assistance (i.e., food, housing, clothing, transportation). PCA Head Start provides parents with information/resources relating to mental health or other issues that place families at risk (i.e., substance abuse, child abuse and neglect or domestic violence).
The overall requirement of program governance is to insure PCA Head Start has an established parent policy group and well-functioning governing body that shares responsibility for overseeing the delivery of high quality services to children and families in accordance with Federal Head Start legislation, regulations and policies.
The PCA Head Start Policy Council has a strong leadership role within the overall program and with Head Start administration to:
Serve as a direct link to their respective Parent Committees by reporting Council activities at the monthly centers’ parent meetings.
Work with parents enrolled in the program to insure they understand their rights, responsibilities, and opportunities for participation in the program.
Work with parents committees in planning, coordinating, and organizing program activities for parents with staff assistance.
Insure the funds are set-aside from the program budget to support parent activities.
Assist in recruiting parent and community volunteer services to help meet identified needs.
Work to establish and maintain procedures to resolve community complaints about the Head Start program.
The quality of nutrition directly impacts the general well-being and health of each child. As part of the total health services delivery system, each child receives a thorough nutrition assessment. Health care plans are developed for children found to be at risk and a follow-up assessment is completed prior to children leaving the program.
Meal service is an integral part of the nutrition services program. The program has central kitchens located at six sites that provide daily breakfast and lunch as well as morning and afternoon snacks for children enrolled in the program. Food transporters use “hot” trucks to transport food to locations without central kitchens. Meals are prepared in accordance with Child and Adult Food Care Program (CACFP) requirements and provide at least 1/3 of children’s daily nutritional requirements.
Meal times are considered part of the total learning environment and children assist in setting the table, cleaning-up, and oftentimes participating in nutritional activities in the classroom.
A variety of nutrition education and training opportunities are provided to staff and parents in order to familiarize them with the effects of nutrition on children’s development, sound eating techniques, and available community resources.