Have you seen what the costs of raising kids are like nowadays? The prices of everything are getting pretty ridiculous. As a parent, you need to take into account the cost of your kids’ healthcare. You’d also need to consider their education. On top of that, you need to provide them with safe shelters, good nutrition, enough entertainment, and the list goes on and on. And, it’s not like things will magically get cheaper in the future. Just to put things into perspective, it costs an average of $889 per month to put kids through preschool. That’s over 10 grand a year just for preschool. That’s why the government has in place programs such as the Head Start program. And, it’s programs like these that come in clutch when people need them most. So, let’s dive into these programs to learn how they could help out.
Intro To Head Start
While it may be a difficult task to take care of every single American, the federal government creates programs like this one to give help where possible. The government understands the financial challenges many American families go through to properly bring up their kids. As we’ve mentioned, putting kids through preschools comes with a hefty bill.
That’s where Head Start comes into play. The idea behind Head Start is to prepare kids of very young ages for later school years. Basically, the government created this program to develop the skills of toddlers and infants. On top of that, the government uses the program to nurture relationships between parents and their kids. Moreover, the program puts a heavy emphasis on nurturing children’s health.
As a matter of fact, Head Start is not just one program, but a series of programs that work on developing different aspects of toddlers, infants, and preschool-aged kids’ lives. It’s important to learn about the different programs offered through Head Start, so you can get the maximum benefit, should you choose to apply.
Early Learning And Development
The idea here is to make kids ready for school in the future. Early learning and development work through individual learning experiences. The program takes many approaches to children’s development. These approaches include play, planned/spontaneous instruction, and active development of child-parent relationships.
When it comes to the topics Head Start focuses on, these kids can expect to work on their social skills, emotional well-being, language and literacy skills, mathematics, and science concepts. These kids will also go through development programs that help them create stronger ties with their cultural and language heritage.
To make this program successful, Head Start requires the participation of parents, including grandparents, foster parents, and other primary caregivers. That may come as a disappointment for parents who see preschool as an opportunity to spend kid-free time. Realistically though, these people have the strongest influence on their kids. Moreover, these parents know their kids best. So, if the program wants to create personalized approaches to child development, using their caretakers makes the most sense.
Considering the amount of information the internet can provide us with, it’s honestly getting pretty difficult to filter out facts, from uncertain information. It’s no surprise parents are having a hard time finding the correct ways to raise mentally and physically healthy children. On the bright side, Head Start puts heavy emphasis on that. Kids who go through Head Start will get opportunities to learn stuff indoors and outdoors. On top of that, Head Start will take practical steps toward ensuring these kids grow up to be healthy, both physically and mentally. These steps often include health screenings, providing nutritious meals, as well as connecting families with medical, dental, and mental health services. Besides all of that, families would also receive psychological consultation, to explore and tackle potential mental health issues, which can be customized according to each child’s needs.
For kids to grow up and develop in a healthy way, their families must provide the atmosphere required to nurture such developments. If a family is to achieve that, they must be stable and healthy themselves. To help make this whole thing successful, Head Start works on supporting families to achieve housing stability, continued education, and financial security.
You Can Find Head Start In Any State
If you’re looking for a place to place your family in the Head Start program, you’ll most likely find your success with non-profit organizations, schools, and community action agencies. The program is available in all US states and territories. Over 1,600 local community agencies offer Head Start program services. Over one million kids receive benefits from these services every year. Moreover, Head Start programs will vary according to the needs of specific populations within the community. So, let’s take a look at some of these programs and how they fit in different communities;
This is the bread and butter program. Head Start will focus on promoting school readiness for kids aged between 3 and 5. You’ll most likely find this program run in centers. However, in other programs, families, and kids may receive head start services through home visits.
Early Head Start programs have a completely different set of people to serve in their crosshairs. EHS will mostly target infants, toddlers, and pregnant women. A family may receive the benefits from EHS until their child turns 3 and is ready to transition into Head Start or another pre-K program. When it comes to pregnant mothers, EHS provides parental support services, as well as follow-up.
It’s pretty common that many Early Head Start programs will be provided in the child’s own home. Early Head Start sessions usually happen on a weekly basis and they focus on the child’s development and the family’s own goals. However, you can also find other EHS programs that provide part-day or full-day programming for children.
Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS)
This program focuses on children whose families are engaged in agricultural labor. The program started working in 1967 and has since served over 30,000. There are two specific groups the program aims to serve. First, families that permanently stay in their communities and continue to do agricultural work, however, started off farming seasonally. The other group includes farmworker families who migrate to specific locations every year.
MSHS operates in 38 states. In those states, MSHS children and their families are represented in key policies. Also, the program operates on local, state, and national levels. Through MSHS, children and families may receive services that include school transitions, child care, and early learning systems.
Among the committees responsible for the program is the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Collaboration Office, or (MSHSCO) for short. This federal office states its mission as “to collaborate, educate, coordinate, and align Head Start services at the local, state, and national levels. This ensures access to high quality, culturally appropriate early childhood education opportunities for the children and families of migrant and seasonal farmworkers.”
How To Qualify For Head Start
It would be great if the government could just give these services to all Americans. However, realistically, the government can only help those who really need the help. That’s why the government has qualifications candidates must meet to qualify for Head Start. You’ll find that that is a common theme with all government assistance programs.
When it comes to Head Start, the government has one priority, low-income families. These families must have income levels that are at or below the poverty level. In order for these families to know whether their incomes are low enough to qualify for Head Start, they must look at the Poverty Guidelines decided by the government.
There’s also another group of candidates that qualify for this program. Children in foster care, homeless children, and kids whose families receive benefits from federal assistance programs, such Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) can qualify for Head Start, no matter their income.
How To Apply For Head Start
Well, you can start by clicking on this link. On that page, you should be able to find all the information you need about the program and how to qualify for it. Besides that, you’ll need to find a Head Start, Early Head Start, MSHS, or AIAN program near you. The easiest way to do that is to check the Head Start Locator.
At your local Head Start program, you can get help with understanding everything about the requirements for applying for your kid. Staff there can answer your questions, provide required forms, and tell you what documents you need to apply. Unfortunately, the program has limited funding. That means that not all eligible children will be enrolled. If your kids couldn’t make it in time, make sure to ask your local Head Start program to put your family on a waitlist
Many families out there don’t have the money to put their kids through good preschools. Other families may also struggle financially to give their kids the upbringing they deserve. Thankfully, Head Start is there for those who need it most.