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Early Head Start | Head Start Programs

Early Childhood

CCSD Head Start and Early Head Start programs are funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to serve 877 preschool children and 152 infants and toddlers, and pregnant women. Head Start programs are offered at 13 sites throughout Charleston County. Early Head Start is available at 5 of our sites as well as in our home-based option.

What are CCSD's Head Start Programs?

Head Start programs were established to provide early, continuous, intensive and comprehensive child development and family support services.

The purpose of the program is to:

  • Enhance children’s physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development
  • Support parents’ efforts to fulfill their parental roles
  • Help parents move toward self-sufficiency
History of Head Start:  https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/video/history-head-start

Governance

The Policy Council in collaboration with the CCSD Board of Trustees forms the structure for the oversight of quality services for Head Start children and families, and for making decisions related to program design and implementation. Head Start's Policy Council, is the decision-making body made up of 51% of parents of children currently enrolled. Along with community representatives, the Policy Council plans and develop goals for the program. They also approve of various policies, hiring, budgets, and work plans.

Children with Disabilities

Head Start provides special education services in an inclusive classroom setting. Goals on a child's Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individual Education Plan (IEP) are incorporated into the daily lesson plans. CCSD Head Start ensures children with special education eligibility receive quality services in a least restrictive, inclusive classroom environment.

Head Start is a comprehensive program designed to meet the emotional, social, health,
and nutritional needs of children between the ages of 3-5.

CCSD Head Start promotes school readiness and provides family engagement services for children and families in Charleston County. Head Start engages parents in their children’s learning and helps them make progress towards their own educational and career goals.

Education

CCSD Head Start/EHS educational programs are designed to meet each child's individual needs. In collaboration with each child’s parents, every child is screened and receives an ongoing assessment to determine language, motor, and development status.

Teachers strive to construct experiences and an environment to meet the linguistic, ethnic and cultural characteristics of the communities served. Teachers plan and implement learning experiences that advance the social-emotional, intellectual and physical development of children including:

  • improving their readiness for school by encouraging them to express their feelings, develop self-confidence, and the ability to get along with others;
  • developing their literacy, phonemic, and print awareness, their understanding and use of language, their understanding and use of increasingly complex and varied vocabulary, their appreciation of books;
  • their understanding of early math and early science, their problem-solving abilities, and their approaches to learning in a safe and healthy environment.

Health

Medical and Dental | Establishing medical and dental homes is a priority for Head Start and Early Head Start. On-site dental prevention screenings are provided for all Head Start children. Children also receive hearing, vision and nutrition screenings with appropriate referrals and resources offered to families when needed. Early interventions ensure there are no barriers to learning.

Nutrition | Mealtime is an extension of learning by modeling language, conversation, social interaction and introducing new foods. The menu integrates the latest nutritional research so families are offered the healthiest meals possible. Head Start works with all families to ensure that their cultural needs are valued and special diets are accommodated. Cooking Matters classes are also provided to enhance parents’ knowledge of healthy eating and cooking on a budget.

Mental Health | A mental health professional is available to every Head Start and Early Head Start classroom to provide mental health observations and services for children and families. Ongoing training and support ensures that Head Start and Early Head Start staff provide high quality classroom environments that foster success, safety, and wellness for each child.

Parent Engagement

Participation in Decision- Making: Parents are the most important influence on a child's development. An essential part of our program is the engagement of parents in program planning and operations. Parents serve as members of Policy Council and Committees and have a voice in program design.

Volunteers: Parents also volunteer in classrooms, the playground, field-trips, meal times and more. Parents receive preference for employment in Head Start for jobs they qualify for.

Classes & Workshops: Opportunities for participation in classes and workshops support child development, parenting skills, and healthy lifestyles, etc. Home visits by staff enhance educational activities parents can carry out in the home. Ready Rosie (web-based) provides parents with access to parenting information and support in a simple format via their cell phone or computer.

30 Million Word Gap Challenge

Word ChallengeCCSD Head Start and Early Head Start programs are challenging families to dispute the research of Hart and Risley (1995). This study compared the early vocabulary experiences of children in poverty with those of average working-class families. Vocabulary development in preschool years is related to later reading skills and school success in general. As an early intervention program, Head Start and Early Head Start are particularly positioned to reduce, if not eliminate this inequality. Parents and staff are trained and supported to be intentional in singing, reading, talking, and providing experiences to increase vocabularies.

The primary focus of the campaign is to encourage families to take advantage of every opportunity to encourage/support language and literacy. Some simple daily activities may include things like:


    • Using songs, stories, and poems to engage children with rich language
    • Engaging children in meaningful conversations
    • Modeling good language including using complete sentences
    • Asking “thought-provoking questions” that require more than a “yes/no” answer. Example: “Why do you think that happened?”; “What did you learn from that?”; “What do you think will happen next and why?”
    • Playing games such as “I Spy” to increase vocabulary
    • Reading, Reading, Reading—it’s ok to read books above a child’s knowledge level and explain new vocabulary

Family services

A critical element of Head Start has always been its comprehensive, intergenerational approach. Respect for the uniqueness of each family drives the work of our family service staff (Family Advocates) as they build relationships with families and work on parent-generated goals. Family Advocates provide resources and referrals, crisis intervention, opportunities for community involvement and support to develop literacy, leadership and employment skills.

Staff Qualifications and Training

In the midst of national teacher shortages CCSD Head Start and Early Head Start seek out and recruit a highly qualified workforce. The Office of Head Start, as well as our state licensing entity (Department of Social Services), require ongoing training and professional development to include a minimum of 15 hours annually. This regulation ensure teachers and staff have the knowledge and skills to provide appropriate instruction and support to all children.

Head Start teachers are required to have a baccalaureate degree or higher in early childhood education or a related field. Early Head Start teachers are required to have a minimum of a child development associate credential. Individual professional plans are developed to promote staff growth and

Volunteers & Partners

Volunteers have been an important part of all Head Start programs from its inception. High school and college students, homemakers, parents of Head Start children, retired senior citizens -- all kinds of people have offered their much needed help to local Head Start programs. Volunteers assist with classroom activities, assist with field trips, become "classroom readers", and help with Head Start community events.

Community organizations provide a wide array of services to Head Start children and families including the donation of, educational materials, eyeglasses for children, equipment for children with special needs, and medical and dental examinations. These services and the time spent by volunteers count toward the required 20 percent non-Federal share of the local Head Start budget.

How to Apply

Please visit your closest center or apply online (English) | apply online (Spanish).

Applications are accepted all year. Mass recruitment begins on February 1, 2019.

 All applications submitted online will still require parents/guardians to meet with a Family Advocate for an in-person interview.

Please bring the following:

  • Proof of income (the total money earned or received before deductions of the family of the child) for the past twelve months,
  • Proof of child's age,
  • Proof of residency
  • Child’s up –to- date South Carolina Immunization
  • Medicaid Card or Private Insurance (if applicable) and,
  • Current Physical Exam (incl blood lead level, hemoglobin),
  • Current Dental Exam (for children 3 to 4 years old),
  • Proof of Pregnancy (Pregnant Woman applying for Early Head Start)

Contact Us

Call us at (843) 937-7914 if you have any questions about CCSD's Head Start or Early Head Start programs.

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