MCDOWELL COUNTY HEAD START & EARLY HEAD START
The first five years…
Research shows that the first five years of a child's life are crucial in regards to development. Head Start/Early Head Start programs strive to exceed the highest standards in Early Childhood Education. The programs are curriculum based and provide a range of services/opportunities for children and families in regards to: health, nutrition, education, parent engagement, and family services.
Children are expected to attend Head Start and Early Head Start regularly. We strive for 85% attendance for all classrooms. In a month with 20 school days, a child would need to attend 17 days to achieve 85% attendance.
Class begins at 8:00 a.m. and having children arrive on time each day helps establish a solid routine which will make the transition to school easier.
Head Start requires that all absences are well documented and analyzed for patterns. Family support measures will be initiated when a child is chronically absent. The program's ultimate goal is to support families and help remove any barriers to attendance.
Our programs reflect a commitment to School Readiness in all aspects. Attendance is one of the key elements to a child's success throughout their education. When a child is absent, they miss the benefit of the educational and social time in class, as well interaction with staff and peers.
To help you understand the importance of building good attendance habits early, the McDowell County Schools Attendance Policy is linked here. Once your child enters public school, they will be required to attend regularly and MCS attendance policies will be enforced if there are chronic unexcused absences.
The Head Start Program's guidelines require that we monitor and track your child's health status while they are enrolled in our program.
Our staff are there to help you every step of the way in gathering your child's health record and making sure that your child has a medical and dental home established and is on a regular schedule of health and dental care.
Our staff can also assist you in getting insurance for your child if they aren't already insured.
We only want the best for your child and family, and making sure that all health needs are met is the best way to make sure that they are ready to learn!
Below is a list of the things that our program needs to complete your child's health record (* = required by the state of NC child care licensing for a child to attend a child care facility):
~* An up-to-date Well Check Exam (Physical)
~* An up-to-date copy of your child's ~Immunization record
~A copy of your child's Medicaid or Private ~Insurance card
Any special documentation required to make sure that your child is safe and cared for properly while at our facility including, but not limited to:
~Medical Diet documentation if your child has a food allergy or requires a special diet
~Chronic Illness Care Plan if your child has a chronic health condition such as: Asthma, Diabetes, etc.
Medications will only be administered on site if there is a Care Plan and Medication Request filled out completely by a Physician.
~A Blood Lead Screening result (this should be completed at 12 months of age and 24 months of age--if your child's Pediatrician does not have record of this on file, it must be completed as soon as possible)
~Hemoglobin/Hematocrit (blood count) applicable for your child's age
Our program requires that your child have the following screenings performed within 45 days of enrollment into our program:
~Vision screening (if your child fails they will be referred for required medical follow-up)
~Hearing screening (if your child fails they will be referred for required medical follow-up)
~Developmental and Social Emotional Screenings (Ages & Stages Questionnaires filled out at enrollment appointment)
Our program requires that your child have the following screening performed within 90 days of enrollment into our program:
~Dental Exam--performed either by our program dentist or by your child's Private Dentist. We MUST have documentation on file of the initial exam AND any follow-up treatment required
Our program contracts with a Licensed Mental Health Consultant who is available to parents of enrolled children that may be struggling with personal issues, child behavior concerns, or other issues.
Our consultant has a flexible schedule and is available to meet at the parent's convenience.
Our consultant is also available to do child observations, with parent permission, for behavioral concerns. After the observation is completed, a Care Team meeting is scheduled with the parent at which time an action plan may be developed and/or referrals to appropriate agencies may be made.
Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in the health and development of children. Nutritious food should be offered throughout the day to ensure children receive nourishment and energy they need to learn, grow and be healthy. USDA school program guidelines are followed.
Teachers will provide a monthly focused nutrition activity and WIC staff or other nutrition consultants may provide special nutritional activities throughout the year.
All children are provided a nutritious breakfast, lunch and snack on campus during program hours for food safety reasons. No meals/snacks are to be taken home. A monthly menu is provided parents for review and posted in the center/classroom.
Homemade prepared food (cupcakes, cakes, cookies, sandwiches, etc.) will not be served in our licensed Child Day Care Facility.
Homemade packed meals/snacks are only allowed with a receipt of a Medical Diet Plan signed and dated by child’s doctor and filed in child’s health file. Individual case-by-case decisions will be honored to the greatest extent possible.
NO CANDY ALLOWED at any time.
A Medical Diet Documentation Form is required to be filled out by your family doctor if there is a food allergy, a diet restriction or special diet for your child. The completed form is provided Child Nutrition so that your child’s medical diet may be modified.
An Ethnic or Religious diet shall be honored to the greatest extent possible, but we will need documentation from the parent in order to change any food from your child’s menu.
For Infants and Toddlers: If the Parent wants to take their child off of formula before age one (12 months) or change the formula, a Diet Documentation Form must be signed/dated by the child’s doctor.
Head Start Performance Standard 1304.23(b) (1) (vi).
Menu Restrictions (Safety concerns & Non Nutritious Items are restricted). Ensure foods are high in nutrients, and low in fat, sugar & salt.
EHS under 12 months of age: NO corn, citrus fruits, eggs, honey, chocolate, peanut butter.
EHS over 12 months of age: NO honey, peanut butter by spoonful, hotdogs, shellfish.
HS/EHS children: No donuts, pastries, sausage pancakes on a stick, limit syrup and serve fruit topping when pancakes are served, potato chips, hotdogs, corn dogs, fruit mix (because of grapes). NO CANDY at any time. Avoid foods posing health risks (choking). Children younger than age 5 are vulnerable to choking because they have fewer & smaller molars, weaker chewing ability, and narrower airways than older children.
Parent & Family Engagement
Parents are always encouraged to volunteer in our classrooms. Ask your child's teacher more about volunteering or contact the Sugar Hill center for more information.
Parents are encouraged to volunteer in the classroom when possible; however because of state regulations we do have some guidelines that we must follow:
~Volunteers must be 18 years or older
~To volunteer more than one day per week we must have current TB test and you must fill out Emergency Information
~You may not bring siblings or other children
~You must attend volunteer or substitute training and/or review information on volunteer responsibilities
~You may not be left alone with children (other than your own)
~All volunteers must read and sign the Volunteer handbook
There are several other ways that parents can be involved in our program!
What Is Policy Council?
Policy Council is the parents' voice in major program decisions, including such things as our recruitment and selection policy, personnel policies, budget, grants, and funding proposals.
Who Is On It?
Parents and Community Representatives
When Is it?
The Policy Council meets once a month at a date and time set by the members.
Who Can Come to Policy Council Meetings?
Policy Council meetings are open to anyone who would like to attend. However, only elected Policy Council Members may vote.
What are the responsibilities of Policy Council members?
To be informed and to keep parents informed about issues facing the Policy Council.
To attend meetings regularly and notify staff in advance if you are unable to attend.
To advocate for the best interest of all Head Start and Early Head Start families.
To attend training and share information with other parents.
What support will be offered?
There will be training for all elected members. The program reimburses mileage to meetings to help with travel expenses.
Why is it important to attend each month?
A copy of the program budget will be handed out to parents in each monthly Policy Council meeting along with copies of reports from each coordination area. Attending meetings allows parents to be more aware of what is happening in the program.
Other Parent Engagement Activities
Circle of Parents & Parent Committees
Circle of Parents is a parent led, but professionally facilitated group for parents to share challenges, successes, and other information. The group is open to anyone and parents guide the topics/focus. Parents who participate gain positive parenting skills and learn how to be an advocate for their children. They also build leadership skills and create a strong support network of fellow parents.
Monthly Parent Meetings
We hold monthly parent meetings with themes related to parenting, nutrition, literacy, finances, health, and other topics related to children and families. Community agencies are invited to share information at these monthly meetings. At the beginning of the school year we send out surveys for you to fill out and let us know what kinds of topics you would like to know more about...make sure that you get those turned back in to your child's classroom! We provide child care when needed. We invite all families to come out and fellowship!
Our staff and other presenters provide parent training throughout the year on topics that concern parents today such as:
Developmentally Appropriate Practices
Health & Nutrition
and many more. Topics, dates and times will be provided to all parents.
This program is designed specifically to involve a male role model in children's lives. We encourage dad, grandpa, uncle, cousin, or even a male family friend to participate with their child.
WHAT IS A FAMILY ADVOCATE?
A Family Advocate is a valuable FRIEND!
Finds resources to meet needs Ready to listen Involved in your family's Head Start experience
Engages your family in goal setting
Nurtures partnerships with families
Discusses and discovers a family's strengths
One of the most unique aspects of the Head Start/Early Head Start program is the Family Services component. Each family is assigned a Family Advocate at enrollment. During enrollment, the Family Advocate begins building a relationship with the family and addresses any immediate needs (food, clothing, or shelter) and/or concerns the family may have. They will also schedule a home visit to continue to get to know the family.
Families will have the chance to learn about goal setting and participate in a Family Partnership Agreement. Advocates complete a«"Strengths and Needs Assessment" with each family at enrollment. Once identified, those strengths can be used to help identify a goal. Identified strengths can be used as a part of the strategy to accomplish a goal.
Some example goals would be to further your education, find a bigger home, find a job or a better job, or many, many other things. This process is completely family driven. Advocates can help with any needed resources and are there to provide encouragement and support along the way.
They will be a familiar face and a cherished FRIEND by the end of the school year!!
Below are some guidelines for setting a goal that can help you start thinking about the process!
S.M.A.R.T. goals are...
What: What do I want to accomplish?
Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
Who: Who is involved?
Where: Identify a location.
Which: Identify the things you need to help accomplish it.
How will I know when it is accomplished?
How: How can the goal be accomplished?
Does this seem worthwhile?
Is this the right time?
Does this match our other efforts/needs?
What can I do six months from now?
What can I do six weeks from now?
What can I do today?