A Developmentally Appropriate Program
Head Start believes that a high quality early childhood program should provide a safe and nurturing environment that promotes all areas of development in a child. We are committed to providing a developmentally appropriate experience for your children. That means we look at each child as an individual with his or her own personality, interests, and abilities.
Our teachers prepare the classroom environment for the children to learn through active exploration and interaction with other children, adults and materials. Our classrooms are divided into different learning areas where children are encouraged to participate throughout the day.
The activities we plan for children, the way we organize the classroom, select toys and materials, plan the daily schedule, and talk with the children are all part of our curriculum. The teachers plan activities based on children’s interest, using, "The Creative Curriculum for Preschool, 5th Edition" as a resource.
The teachers complete 3 assessments each year using Teaching Strategies GOLD. These assessments, which cover all areas of your child’s development, help the teachers to plan a successful education experience. With your input the teachers are able to develop school readiness goals that are individualized to support your child’s growth.
We believe that it is very important to share information so that both parents and staff can best meet the needs of the children.
We encourage you to feel free to ask questions, discuss concerns, etc. with our staff. Phone calls, notes, emails, text messages and conversations when volunteering, etc. are all ways of keeping informed.
There are also four scheduled times that you can meet with your child’s teacher to discuss progress, concerns, ideas, etc. Two home visits and two center conferences will be held during the program year.
In order to maintain confidentiality and privacy, we request that all parents and program visitors ask permission before taking any pictures of Head Start children and staff. If you are given permission to take a photo, be careful to include just your child in the picture.
No one, including the child's parent, is permitted to physically discipline a child while on Head Start property. The major goal of classroom discipline is to help children learn self-control so that they live by the rules because they understand them, not because an adult is watching. We use a variety of positive methods including redirecting a child, praising proper behavior while ignoring some misbehavior and giving choices.
Sometimes a time-out is used to separate a child from the group especially if that child is hurting someone or in danger of hurting him/herself. Center staff are responsible for putting a child in time-out.
Indiana County Head Start does not permit classroom parties, holiday parties, gift exchanges, costumes or treat bags.
Health and Nutrition
When your child enters Early Head Start or Head Start, he/she will receive a variety of health screenings as part of the Comprehensive Health Plan designed by Head Start. Your consent and cooperation are important. These screenings are free and provided by Head Start. Parents will be informed of the results. These screenings give a snapshot of your child’s health which allows us to assist you in preparing your child for the next step, Kindergarten!
However, a medical and dental screening MUST be performed by your child’s physician and dentist. These are required tests, and MUST be completed within the time frame recommended by the Head Start Performance Standards.
Required immunizations include:
DTap/DTP: 4 doses
OPV/IPV: 3 doses
MMR: 1 dose
Varicella: 1 dose (or proof that the child had chickenpox)
Hib: 3 doses
Hep A: 2 doses
If your child is exempt from immunizations, he or she may be removed from school during an outbreak.
Center Tests Performed: (EHS Home Visits at appropriate ages)
Speech and Language
Height and Weight
Tests to be Performed by the Child’s Physician and Dentist:
Physical Examination: Anemia test (hemoglobin/hematocrit), lead test, immunizations
A dental exam is required by 1 year of age or with the appearance of the first tooth.
Vision screening is performed at the Head Start Center by community volunteers and/or Head Start Health Staff. If the child fails the first screening, a second one is performed. If the child fails the second, he/she is referred to an eye doctor.
Hearing, Speech, Developmental and Behavioral
Staff from Lifesteps, Head Start, ARIN or IUP will complete these screenings at the Head Start centers. If a child fails the first hearing screening, a second one is preformed several weeks later. If the child fails the second hearing screening, he/she is referred to an audiologist for hearing concerns.
Developmental screenings include the areas of physical, language and cognitive development. Refer to the Disabilities section for information on developmental and speech screening follow up.
The purpose of the behavioral screening is early identification of any challenging behaviors or concerns which may interfere with a child’s social emotional development. We gather information from parents and teachers regarding behavior and social interactions. A mental health professional is available to discuss any concerns and support parents and teachers.
Each child is provided with a toothbrush at the center. The children are taught good oral hygiene and are encouraged to brush their teeth properly and regularly. Staff, volunteers, and parents model tooth brushing daily with the children. We provide toothbrushes and adult toothpaste for your visit.
If you do not have access to medical care, inform your Family Service Worker and/or the Health Services Manager so that you can get information regarding health insurance and how to access it.
Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT)
Free comprehensive health services are available for all children on medical assistance under 21. Call 1-800-543-7633 for more information.
Nutrition Needs Assessment
Once a month, your child will bring home a menu for the entire month. The menus are planned to make sure each child receives a balanced diet and follows the CACFP/USDA guidelines. Recipes from parents are welcomed. They will be incorporated in the menu when appropriate. Children who eat well balanced meals high in nutrition and low in sugar, salt and fat come to school ready to learn.
Meals at Head Start are served family style. You will receive a nutrition/growth assessment twice a year. Once in the fall and once in the spring a growth assessment will be sent home explaining your child’s strengths and areas of concern. This information is compiled using your child’s height, weight, body mass index and nutrition survey.
The bus is a safe and successful way to transport preschool children, but it requires the cooperation of parents and staff. Routes are established during the summer months. Buses have two-way FCC licensed radios. The base unit for these radios is in the Head Start office.
If a child will not be riding the bus, whether it is in the morning or afternoon, the parent should inform the Head Start office at 724-349-6200 or 1-877-346-3023 (toll calls only). Please make the phone call as early as you can so we can let the driver know.
Parents need to be at the bus stop five (5) minutes before the pick-up and drop off times. When children are picked up at home, parents and children need to be waiting outside.
Temperatures will be taken when the child steps onto the bus. The child will either place their hand or forehead on the reader to take their temperature. If your child has a temperature of 100.4 or higher they will not be allowed to come to school until they are fever free for 24 hours.
All passengers in the bus must remain, seated and wear a seat belt while the bus is moving, except for the bus monitor when they are assisting children.
Toys are permitted on the bus on designated days.
Food and drinks are NOT permitted on the bus.
Smoking is NOT permitted on the bus.
When a child is returned home, the parent or person on the emergency form must come to the bus to get the child.
Adults and children need to cross in front of the bus when getting off so the driver is able to see everyone. The driver may signal when it is safe to cross.
Children 12 years of age or older may get a Head Start child off the bus. IF a child must cross the street, they must be accompanied by a parent or another person 18 years of age or older.
The bus driver is NOT allowed to let a child leave the bus if a designated person is not at the bus stop.
If the person at the bus stop isn’t known by the bus driver, the driver will ask for identification.
If no designated person is at the bus stop, the child may be returned to the center or the main office. Parents then become responsible for picking up the child.
Parents who take the children to Head Start must walk their child in and out of the building. Children must arrive and leave at scheduled times.
Emergency forms must include at least two people who live close to the family and have working phone numbers.
Emergency forms must be kept up to date. Inform your Family Service Provider of any changes. Changes can be made at any time.
Head Start programs are not required to provide transportation. Transportation can be suspended if the family doesn’t cooperate.
Radio, TV stations and the ARIN website are informed of program closings and early dismissals. The following stations announce closings and early dismissals.
Radio Stations: WCCS 1160, WDAF 1450, U92, WLCY 106.3, WOKW 102.9 FM, WYKE 96.5 FM, WFGI 95.5, WYOT 92.1, WRKW 99.1, KOOL 103.3, 104.1 FM.
TV Stations: KDKA Channel 2, WTAE Channel 4, WJAC-TV Channel 6, WPXI Channel 11
ARIN IU 28: www.iu28.org/schoolcast
Bus Video Surveillance
Indiana County Head Start recognizes the need to ensure security and safety to our students and drivers on school buses. Video surveillance cameras are on school uses to aid in monitoring activity on and around our buses. The surveillance equipment may be in operation before, during, and after students on and get off the bus.
Disability Services Screening
Every child receives screenings consisting of speech, vision, hearing, and developmental tests. The screening process gives a sense of how the child is functioning or the child's level of development. Screening is done in the classroom by Head Start staff or representatives from another agency, such as ARIN, Lifesteps or IUP.
If the results from the screening indicate area of concern, the child may be re-screened at a later date or referred for a more in-depth evaluation. This evaluation will be done only if the parents give Head Start signed permission.
The evaluation is done by a specialist in the area of concern. Once the evaluation is complete, the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) is formed to share information about the child. The MDT involves parent(s) and other individuals who are familiar with the child. The team will discuss the child’s strengths and any area of concern. If the team agrees that the child would benefit from receiving special services to further support the growth of the child the IEP process will begin.
Individual Education Program (IEP)
The IEP is a plan addressing the child's strengths and needs and special services to meet these needs. Depending on the disability, the services could include speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. All services are provided at the Head Start center.
Mental/Behavioral Health Services
“Behavioral Health” is used to describe the connection between our behaviors and the health of our bodies, mind, and spirit. This includes behaviors such as eating habits, exercise, and our social interactions. Much like the Nutrition, Health or Education components, our Mental/Behavioral Health component is here to make certain that children and their families thrive in their classrooms and communities and are supported in dealing with any concerns as they arise. The Mental Health Consultant is there to support mentally healthy home and program environments for the children the program serves by the following:
Overseeing behavioral interventions and support practices responsive to the needs of a child or group of children and families.
Observing classroom environments and assessing teacher-child-family interactions
Observing individual children and assess social and emotional development
Providing recommendations, support and guidance to staff and families faced with a behavioral challenge
Providing group, individual staff, and parent education on mental health issues
Partnering with and referring to other community mental health resources
Parents who have concerns about their child’s behavior, would like information about what to expect at certain ages, or have general questions regarding parenting or mental health can bring these to our Mental Health Consultant. She is available upon request. Parents can contact their Family Service Worker, Child’s teacher, or contact the office directly to reach her at 724-349-6200 ext. 1136 to speak to with the Mental Health Consultant.
Transition is the process of moving or changing from one place to another. You are experiencing a transition right now as you and your child begin in our Head Start program. You will learn what to expect by attending our orientations and open house activities as well as parent activities and trainings throughout the year.
Another transition will take place when your child leaves Head Start to go to Kindergarten or possibly another preschool program. Planning and preparation will make this transition smoother for you and your child. Throughout the year at Head Start we will offer a variety of opportunities to prepare you for transition. This may include:
Getting your permission to send your child’s records to kindergarten.
Informing you of kindergarten registration.
Scheduling field trips for children to the school.
Inviting school district personnel to our Head Start centers.
We encourage you to stay involved in your child’s education beginning NOW! After all, YOU are your child’s first and most important teacher.