Head Start in the State of Ohio is a federally funded comprehensive developmental preschool program for income eligible children (ages 3-5) and their families. Lake-Geauga United Head Start, Inc. (LGUHS, Inc.) receives grants from the Federal Department of Health and Human Services and the Ohio Department of Education, Office of Safety, Health and Nutrition for the operation of the Head Start Program. There is no fee for eligible children and their families in this program that was designed in 1965 to primarily serve children from at-risk families.
Lake-Geauga United Head Start, Inc. was established in 1969 as a single purpose non-profit corporation. There are currently three centers in Lake and Geauga counties. These three centers serve 392 children and their families.
Head Start has served as a model for other early childhood development programs. Although targeted for children from income eligible families, the program may accept 10% of its enrollment from families who exceed federal income guidelines. In addition, at least 10% of the children enrolled must be identified as having certifiable disabilities in such areas as speech, hearing, vision or physical disabilities. Follow-up treatment is provided for certain identified health and dental problems. A wide range of services encompassing the major component areas of Head Start include Education, Health/Nutrition, Disabilities/Special Services, Parent Involvement and Social Services are provided for the child and his/her family.
The program is designed to provide children and their families with comprehensive early childhood services. Education services include early childhood activities based on the National Association of Education of Young Children (NAEYC) guidelines for developmentally appropriate practices and a widely utilized preschool curriculum. Through supervised play, individual attention and child-initiated activities, each child has the opportunity to develop socially, emotionally, intellectually and physically. Most classrooms average 16 children to one Teacher and one Teacher Assistant, along with parent volunteers. The education program also includes on-going assessments of the children’s development.
An essential part of the LGUHS, Inc. program is the involvement of parents. Parents are involved in the program from volunteering in the classroom to helping make major decisions within the program including program planning, implementation and design. Parent educational programs are planned to meet every aspect of the needs or wants for a Head Start family.
The Social Services area is comprised of a Parent and Community Partnership Coordinator and Family Advocates. Family Advocates work with families to identify strengths and areas of need. Assistance is provided through both direct service and community referrals.
The Special Services Coordinator ensures that each Head Start child is screened for developmental speech, language and hearing levels. A mental health consultant is contracted to observe behaviors within the Head Start classrooms and to serve any needs in this area for the children, families and staff. If further assessment is needed for the child the coordinator arranges it with parents, staff and support persons.
A Registered Dietician is responsible for meal planning and providing each child a well balanced diet. A wide variety of foods including fresh fruits and vegetables are offered to the children giving them an opportunity to experience new foods. Meals are served family style to provide opportunities for the development of positive attitudes toward healthy foods. This allows the children to make decisions, share and communicate with others and develop eye-hand coordination. The children’s nutritional status is assessed by nutrition histories, height, weight, and anemia screenings. Referrals are made for children having specific problems.
The Health Specialist ensures that each enrolled child has a complete physical and dental examination and receives follow-up care for identified health concerns. Health services are aimed toward preventative care for the child and family. The importance of immunizations is stressed to each family and maintained per health codes within the community served. We encourage ongoing healthcare by establishing a medical home, which allows families to participate in healthcare after leaving the Head Start program.