Early Head Start
Children and families with the greatest need are served in Early Head Start. This Program serves infants and toddlers from six weeks to 36 months of age and pregnant women from their third month through delivery. Comprehensive child development services in a classroom setting are provided to the children. Support services are provided to all families to assist them with achieving their own self-improvement goals.
Infants and toddlers with special needs or disabilities receive services in an inclusive environment in our center and partner sites through Early Intervention: First Steps. These services are individualized based on a child’s needs. The child’s needed services are included in the Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP). These services may include special class instructions, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.
Preschool children with special needs or disabilities receive special education or related services in an inclusive setting in our centers and partnering sites through the local education agencies (public schools) and contracted private resources. These services are included in the Individual Education Plan (IEP). These services include: audiology, speech and language therapy, medical services, psychological services, etc. Children with severe health impairments have their needs addressed in an Individual Health Care Plan (IHCP).
All services provided and the development of the IFSP/IEP/IHCP include the child’s parent or guardian.
We enter partnerships and work closely with child care providers and school districts to develop strategies supporting children and families as they make the transition from Early Head start to Head Start, to kindergarten.
MALE INVOLVEMENT/ALPHA FRATERNITY
Based on a collaboration effort between the regional office of Health and Human Services and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, this program provides for members of the fraternity to serve as mentors to Head Star children. Special outings and trainings are planned to give fathers and other males an opportunity to interact with the children.
The Child Development service area provides a comprehensive education program for 3-and 4 year old children. Activities that allow each child to develop intellectually, physically, socially, and emotionally are carried out in a culturally-sensitive environment. Emphasis is placed on:
- Language development and literacy skills in listening and communication, phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, print and book knowledge, and written expression.
- Mathematical skills
- Science skills
- Creative arts skills
- Scientific skills
- Social/emotional development
- Approaches to learning
- Physical health and development
Classrooms and playgrounds are designed to facilitate learning. Parents and communities are partners in helping children to develop to their full potential. All Head Start classroom teachers have a bachelors or masters degree in early childhood education /child development or related fields. Some teachers in partnering sites may have an associate degree or Child Development Associate certificate.
Children enrolled in Head Start receive breakfast, lunch, and snack meals at no cost to parents. All meals are planned based on USDA requirements. ICS provides nutritional information for all parents.
An assessment of each family is conducted to identify strengths, needs, and goals for the child and family for the school year. Specific family training needs are identified and services coordinated. Family-centered services are offered based upon parental input. Community resource information and guidance are provided. Our overall goal is to strengthen families and move them toward self-sufficiency.
Transportation to and from the Head Start centers is made available to eligible children. Every bus is driven by a commercially licensed driver.
In collaboration with literacy councils, ABE and GED classes are taught at locations throughout the areas served by ICS to help improve literacy of parents and ICS staff.
Reading is Fundamental (RIF)
Our children are encouraged to read by participating in reading-related activities. A federal grant from Reading is Fundamental, which provides 75 percent of the funding, allow the children to choose and own quality books that interest them. Each center solicits 25 percent in matching funds.
Mental Health Services
Licensed clinical psychologists and/or mental health consultants are available to our children, families, and staff on a contractual basis. They observe classrooms, at least, on a monthly basis to ensure that our children are healthy both socially and emotionally. Activities to promote mental health are carried out in all classrooms throughout the day.
Positive behavioral support plans are developed for children who need intervention, and referrals may be made to community resources with parental permission. Parent training is provided on various topics to aid parents in behavior management and mental health services are addressed through local community mental health agencies.
The importance of routine, regular health care is stressed. Health education for the children and parents is a major focus. Hand washing and tooth brushing are emphasized. Referrals are given and links are made to direct health care providers so children can receive routine, as well as, comprehensive medical and dental services from licensed health professionals. Child health care needs are met through corrective measures deemed necessary. Families are connected to medical and dental homes to ensure continuity of quality health care and in efforts to support preventative health care and overall child and family well-being.
Parent Engagement / Volunteer Services
The involvement of parents in our program is critical to the child’s growth and development. Training is provided to parents through each service area, and parents are encouraged to volunteer at their child’s center. Parents serve as members of the policy council and board of directors and have a voice in all policy decisions.
HEAD START TRAINING AND RESOURCE SPECIALIST PROGRAM (HSTARS)
This program provides training and technical assistance to Head Start disabilities services coordinators in six agencies assigned to the ICS cluster (M2).
For More Information
Institute of Community Services, Inc.
160 West Valley Avenue
P.O. Box 160
Holly Springs, Mississippi 38635
Phone: 662.252.1582 ext. 100 Fax: 662.252.7253