The Head Start program at Children’s Learning Center provides crucial support to families with preschool-age children who live at or below the poverty level in Jackson Hole. While “poverty” is not a word that is closely associated with life in this resort community, the reality is that hundreds of children don’t have enough healthy food to eat, don’t have healthcare, don’t have safe childcare, and are not likely to succeed in an educational environment without intervention.
Head Start is a primarily federally funded program that provides comprehensive care for families with young children who are living at one hundred percent of the federal poverty level. The program includes meals, educational opportunities, and family services. Children’s Learning Center is the only agency in Jackson that offers Head Start and it is delivered entirely without cost to participating families. This happens thanks to a strong network of community collaboration.
Children’s Learning Center in Teton County is staffed with English and Spanish speakers. Children in Head Start and Early Head Start learn in a dual language immersion program. They learn English from native English speakers and Spanish from native Spanish speakers.
Like all educational programs at Children’s Learning Center, these classrooms are treated as research centers where children learn about the world around them, discussing their theories and ideas with their friends and teachers. They enjoy field trips in the community and learn the essential communication and literacy skills that will help them as they enter kindergarten and progress through school.
The work of Head Start continues when children are not in the classroom. Teachers check in with families regularly to assess the progress being made. They follow up with other agencies to coordinate services, complete assessments of children’s learning, contact health care providers as needed, provide translations, visit families’ homes, and look for additional resources to support the families and the classrooms.
The parents of Head Start children are encouraged to be involved with the program by serving on advisory committees and helping in the classroom. This gives parents a “head start” in understanding and successfully navigating the public school system, making them effective advocates for their kids long after leaving Children’s Learning Center.
For more information please visit the following websites:
Administration for Children & Families: Head Start Bureau http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/hsb
Head Start Information and Publication Center http://www.headstartinfo.org/