Early Childhood Programs Overview
"Serving Families so that all Children can Learn and Grow in a Healthy, Nurturing Environment."
HEAD START / EARLY HEAD START
The District School Board of Pasco County is a Head Start/Early Head Start grantee. Through this federally funded grant, high quality early childhood comprehensive services promoting school readiness are offered to enrolled expectant mothers, children and families from pre-birth through age 5.
The federal Office of Head Start provides grants to local public and private non-profit and for-profit agencies to provide comprehensive child development services to economically disadvantaged children and families, with a special focus on helping preschoolers develop school readiness skills in the areas of early reading, mathematics and social skills. In 1995, the Early Head Start program was established to serve children from birth to three years of age in recognition of the mounting evidence that the earliest years significantly impact children's growth and development. In 2003, the District School Board of Pasco County was awarded the Early Head Start grant.
Head Start programs promote school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, parent engagement, health, nutritional, mental health and disabilities and other services to enrolled children and families. Program staff engage parents in their children's learning experiences and help them make progress toward their family outcome goals. Significant emphasis is placed on the involvement of parents in the governance of local Head Start programs.
Early Childhood Development and Health
The Office of Head Start’s commitment to wellness embraces a comprehensive vision of health for children, families, and staff to support school readiness. The objective of the program is to ensure that, through collaboration among families, staff, and health professionals, all 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.
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 the 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 within the program’s communities. The varied experiences provided by the program support the continuum of children’s growth and development, which includes the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of each child.
Family and Community Engagement
Head Start offers parents opportunities 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 one another. Our program follows Head Start’s Parent, Family and Community Engagement Framework as a model of meeting the needs of our families to support self-resiliency and sufficiency.
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 partnerships is to ensure that the grantee collaborate with partners in their communities, in order 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.
SCHOOL READINESS GOALS AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT
Head Start defines school readiness as children possessing the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary for success in school and for later learning in life. Performance Standard 1307.3 and the Head Start Act of 2007 state that school readiness goals should articulate our program’s expectations of children’s status and progress of child development and early learning that will improve children’s readiness for Kindergarten. The program has adopted the Teaching StrategiesTM Creative Curriculum and assessment system GOLD. These curricular/assessment tools are used to collect and aggregate school readiness data four times a year.
Emergent literacy skills are developed through many opportunities for children to interact with print in a natural, developmentally appropriate learning environment. Young learners acquire literacy concepts and skills through active engagement, constructing their understanding of how written language works. Specific skills are embedded into daily activities using music, read aloud, big books, songs, charts, chants, games and environmental print. Skills in young literacy learners begin to emerge as their experiences are enriched. The onset and growth of these skills are captured through periodic and ongoing observations assessments.
Math experiences include a variety of opportunities for young learner that actively engage them in their physical and social world to explore and utilize ideas and concepts. With an emphasis on problem solving, mathematics concepts are purposefully introduced and embedded into daily activities. Opportunities for exploration include measurement, pattern building, sequencing, numeracy, sorting & classifying, comparing, estimating, predicting and special relationships. Growth in these areas is captured through periodic and ongoing assessments.
Conscious Discipline® is a research-based program that combines social and emotional learning with school based discipline and guidance. The program empowers adults to consciously respond to daily conflict by transforming each opportunity to a “teachable moment” through modeling critical life skills to children.
Conscious Discipline® is a vital resource as our program and school district continue to support trauma informed care.
During the 2017-2018 program year, the Pasco County Head Start/Early Head Start program set out to deepen the levels of implementation of Conscious Discipline® program. Parent training was also provided and specific materials and kits were given to parents. Training continues to be provided to all staff as well as training for enrolled parents and guardians.
Our program looks forward to continuing the implementation of our parent curriculum.
VOLUNTARY PREKINDERGARTEN (VPK)
VPK is a state funded early learning program designed to prepare children for success in kindergarten. Early Childhood Programs offers VPK during the school year to Head Start children as part of a blended funding model, which includes 540 hours of VPK instruction. Age eligible Pasco County children who do not participate in any school year VPK program have an opportunity to attend Summer VPK offered through Early Childhood Programs or private providers.