Head Start is a national program which provides comprehensive developmental services for America's low-income, preschool children and social services for their families. Established in 1965, Head Start promotes school resdiness for children, ages three to five, by offering educational, nutritional, health, social and other services. Head Start programs promote school readiness by actively engaging parents in their children's learning and help parents in making progress toward their own educational, literacy and employment goals. Significant emphasis is placed on the involvement of parents in the administration of local Head Start programs.
Early Head Start, launched in 1995, provides support to low-income infants, toddlers, pregnant woment and their families. Early Head Start programs enhance children's physical, social, emotional and intellectual development; assist pregnant women to access comprehensive prenatal and postpartum care; support parent's efforts to fulfill their parental roles and to help parents move toward self-sufficiency. Together Head Start and Early Head Start have served tens of millions of children and their families across our nation.
In New Mexico, their are sixteen (16) regional and eighteen (18) tribal Head Start/Early Head Start programs. In addition, two (2) Migrant/Seasonal Centers that are open part of the year. One in Clovis, NM and the other in Mesquite, NM. Of the thirty-three (33) counties in New Mexico only two counties do not have a Head Start Center- Harding and Los Alamos. Currently, there are over 140 Head Start/Early Head Start Centers, serving approximately 10,000 young children annually.
Major Components of Head Start/Early Head Start
Head Start's commitment to wellness embraces a comprehensive vision of health for children, families and staff. The objective of Child Health and Development Services is to ensure that, through collaboration among families, staff and health professionals, all child health and developmental concerns are identified and children and families are linked to an ongoing source of continuous, accessible care to meet their basic health needs. Head Start/Early Head Start emphasis the importance of the early identification of health problems. Every child is involved in a comprehensive health program, which includes immunizations, medical dental, mental health and nutritional services.
The objective of education and early childhood development is to provide all children with a safe, nurturing, engaging, enjoyable and secure learning environment, in order to help them gain awareness, skills and confidence necessary to succeed in their present environment and to deal with later responsibilities in school and in life. Each child is treated as an individual in an inclusive community that values, respects and responds to diversity. The varied experiences provided by the program support the continuum of the children's growth and development, whic includes the physical, social, emotional and cognitive development of each child.
Head Start offers parents opportunites and support for growth, so that they can identify their own strengths, needs and interests and find their own solutions. The objective of Family Partnerships is to support parents as they identify and meet their own goals, nurture the development of their children in the context of their family and culture and advocate for communities that are supportive of children and families of all cultures. The building of trusting, collaborative relationships between parents and staff allows them to share with and to learn from each other.
Head Start serves families within the context of the community and recognizes that many other agencies and groups work with the same families. The objective of Community Partnership is to ensure that grantee and delegate agencies collaborate with partners in their communities, in order to provide the highest level of services to children and families, to foster the developement of a continuum of family-centered services and to advocate for a community that shares responsibility for the healthly development of children and families of all cultures.