What is Head Start?
Start is a Federal program for pregnant women, children ages
birth to five years old and their families. The Head Start
program is operated by local nonprofit organizations in almost
every county in the country. Children who attend Head Start
participate in a variety of educational activities. They also
receive free medical and dental care, have healthy meals and
snacks, and enjoy playing indoors and outdoors in a safe setting.
Services are also available to pregnant women, infants and
toddlers in selected sites..
What can the Head Start offer my child?
Head Start provides children with activities that help them
grow mentally , socially, emotionally and physically. The
Head Start staff recognize that, as parents, you are the first
and most important teachers of your children. They will welcome
your involvement in Head Start activities, and will work as
partners with you to help your child progress.
Head Start staff members offer your child love, acceptance,
understanding, and the opportunity to learn and to experience
success. Head Start children socialize with others, solve
problems, and have other experiences which help them become
self-confident. The children also improve their listening
and speaking skills.
The children spend time in stimulating settings where they
form good habits and enjoy playing with toys and working on
tasks with classmates. Your child will leave Head Start more
prepared for kindergarten, excited about learning, and ready
Your Head Start child will also be examined by skilled professionals
for any health problems. Professionals will arrange vision
and hearing tests and any needed immunizations. Head Start
offers a nutrition assessment and dental exams as well. Children
with health needs receive follow-up care.
Mental health and other services are available for children
and families with special needs.
What can Head Start offer my family?
Head Start offers you as sense of belonging, other support
services, and a chance to be involved in activities to help
your whole family. You can take part in training classes on
many subjects, such as child rearing, job training, learning
about health and nutrition, and using free resources in your
own community. Some parents learn the English language; others
learn to read. Head Start also offers assistance to parents
interested in obtaining a high school General Equivalency
Diploma (GED) or other adult education opportunities.
If you have a family member with a special problem, such as
drug or alcohol abuse, job loss, or other family crisis, your
family can receive help through Head Start.
Head Start staff members refer families needing help to medical,
social welfare, or employment specialists they know in the
community, and will follow up to be sure you receive assistance.
You can become a Head Start volunteer and learn more about
child development. This experience may later qualify you for
training which can help you find employment in the child care
You can also have a voice in the Head Start program by serving
on various committees. Parents' experiences in Head Start
have raised their own self-confidence and improved their ability
to make decisions.
What would by my child's routine in the Head Start Program?
Most children who enroll in Head Start attend a half-day center-based
program. However, some communities may operate a full day
program or provide Head Start services through a home-based
setting. In a home-based program, staff called Home Visitors
teach parents how to provide learning experiences for their
Some center-based programs offer children bus rides to and
When the children arrive at the center, they are greeted warmly
by their teachers. They put whatever they have brought from
home in a place which is their own to use every day.
Classroom time includes many different activities. Some teachers
begin the day by asking the children to sit in a circle. This
encourages the children to talk about an idea or experience
they want to share with others. In some centers, the children
plan their activities. They may choose among art, playing
with music, looking at books, or pretend housekeeping. Children
can switch activities if they prefer another challenge.
Do Head Start programs offer transportation services?
Some Head Start programs provide full transportation while
others provided limited or no transportation services at all.
This service is specific to each individual program. For information
regarding a particular program and their provision of transportation
or not, please contact that program directly.
Are Head Start programs part of the local school departments?
Some Head Start programs may operate under the auspices of
the local school departments, but some may not. However, all
Head Start programs have Inter-Agency Agreements (some formal
and some informal) with the local school departments across
What are the hours of operation? Each of the RI Head
Start programs offer varied program options and hours of operation.
Please contact the individual programs for their specific
hours of operation.
What is the cost? Head Start is a free program for
children and families who qualify according to the Eligibility
Criteria set forth by the federal government and program itself.