A Comprehensive Child Development Program
Head Start programs promote the school readiness of preschool children from age three to five from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development.
Head Start supports children’s growth and development in a positive learning environment through comprehensive program services in the areas of Education and Child Development, Health, and Family and Community Engagement.
Head Start operates under detailed federal regulations and program performance standards to ensure quality, comprehensive services in all areas.This is done through a system of Program Management and Quality Improvement which includes a formal structure of Program Governance that ensures the collaboration of the governing body and policy council.
Additional information on Head Start can be found at the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC).
Education and Child Development Program Services
Children’s readiness for school and beyond is fostered through individualized learning experiences which are designed to meet the individual needs of each child. Through relationships with adults, play, and planned and spontaneous instruction, children grow in many aspects of development. Children progress in social skills and emotional well-being, along with language and literacy learning, and concept development.
Guam Head Start Program uses the Creative Curriculum. Lesson plans are designed with the concept that children learn through play and literacy is emphasized. The progress of children is monitored with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework which describes the skills, behaviors, and knowledge that programs must foster in all children.
Because the child’s self-esteem is so critical to the learning process, activities which promote a positive “I am special” concept are integrated into daily lessons. The concept that the child is a member of a larger community is addressed. Head Start strives to build the child’s ethnic pride while respecting the cultural backgrounds of others.
Additional Services for Children with Disabilities
Head Start enrolls children with disabilities if it is an appropriate placement for their unique needs. All children learn from their classmates through aspects such as play, social interaction activities, and role modeling. Children with disabilities need to be with their peers to also experience and have opportunities to learn in the least restrictive environment.
Our goal is to serve a minimum of ten percent (10%) of the total enrollment. Head Start works closely with the Division of Special Education (SPED) to coordinate service provision based on the child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and ensure that we are meeting the individual needs of the child and their family.
Health Program Services
Head Start's commitment to wellness embraces a comprehensive vision of health for children, families, and staff. Our objective 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 emphasizes the importance of prevention and early identification of health problems. All children are required to have physical examinations including up-to-date Immunizations, Tuberculosis Screening, and Blood tests, Hearing tests, Vision tests and Dental exam prior to entering Head Start. If treatment is necessary to correct health problems, help is available through the child’s family medical resources, community health agencies, and/or Head Start.
Each child’s perceptual, motor, and physical development is supported to permit them to fully explore and function in their environment. All children receive health and developmental screenings, nutritious meals, oral health and mental health support. Programs connect families with medical, dental, and mental health services to ensure that children are receiving the services they need.
Child Mental Health, Social and Emotional Well Being
Head Start recognizes the importance of providing mental health and psychological services to children to encourage their social and emotional development. As part of Head Start’s comprehensive services, the Mental Health component focuses on the promotion of positive self-worth, respect for individual differences, and the ability to develop appropriate social skills. Accomplishments in these areas will affect a child’s ability to play, love, learn, and work within the home, school and other environments. All fit together to form the foundation of a mentally healthy person.
As part of our prevention efforts, Head Start also provides counseling, workshops, and information on appropriate mental health practices are available to parents and staff through various community agencies and organizations.
Family and Community Engagement Program Services
Head Start focuses on goals that families develop with the support of program leadership, staff, and engaged community partners. These goal-directed relationships are part of the two-generational approach of working with children and adult family members and distinguish Head Start from other early childhood initiatives.
Families play a critical role in helping their children to prepare for school and a lifetime of academic success. Thus, Head Start takes intentional steps to promote parent and family engagement.
Head Start uses the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework as a roadmap for progress in achieving the types of outcomes that lead to positive and enduring change for children and families.
An essential part of every Head Start Program is to support and strengthen parent-child relationships and engage families around children’s learning and development. Participation in parent-child projects and/or activities support class lesson plans and activities. As classroom volunteers, parents learn more about their child’s development and their role as the primary educator of their children. Parents are also able to obtain experiences helpful for future employment.
Your involvement is essential to the success of the Program and most especially, to your child’s development.
Parents are the most important influence on a child’s development. Because of this, Head Start is based on a partnership between parents and staff.The building of trusting, collaborative relationships between parents and staff allows them to share with and to learn from one another.
Parents and families are supported in identifying their strengths and needs, advocating for their children and families, and achieving their own goals in areas such as housing stability, continued education, and financial security. Head Start advocates for families to ensure that they get information, access to community services, and benefits to which they are entitled.
Although services through Head Start are coordinated by Head Start Staff, the provision of services is most often a collaborative effort between the Head Start program and partners in the community, both public and private. Head Start serves families within the community and recognizes that many other agencies and groups work with the same families. Thus, Head Start collaborates with its community partners to provide the highest level of services to children and families, to foster the development of a continuum of family centered services, and to advocate for a community that shares responsibility for the healthy development of children and families of all cultures.
Program Management and Quality Improvement
Head Start promotes excellence in program management as the foundation for quality services provided to young children and their families.
Program goals and measurable objectives are established in collaboration with the governing body and policy council. The process of ongoing monitoring of program performance and continuous improvement for achieving program goals ensures child safety and the delivery of effective, high-quality program services.
Ongoing Monitoring for Quality Improvement
The Head Start Performance Standards govern the services that programs must provide and the standards they must adhere to in operating Head Start. Programs are required to establish management systems and procedures that effectively support program services and ensure positive child and family outcomes.
A part of Head Start's program management and quality assurance is the annual program self-assessment. Each agency is mandated by the Head Start Performance Standards to assess the quality of its Head Start program on an annual basis.
An on-site program triennial review by and annual reports to the Office of Head Start, Region IX also help to ensure program quality.
Head Start maintains a formal structure for program governance and shared decision-making that includes a governing body, a policy council, and parent committees. Strong committed groups that represent Head Start parents and the larger community are established to provide effective leadership to, and oversight of the program.
In Guam, the Guam Education Board (GEB)is the governing body that has a legal and fiscal responsibility to administer and oversee Head Start. The Guam Head Start Policy Council (GHSPC) is responsible for the direction of the Head Start program. Center Level Parent Groups (CLPG) ensure that all parents of enrolled children have a voice in program planning.