By Mary Vanderwert
Minnesota State Head Start Collaboration Director
Minnesota Department of Education
To ensure that all children have the opportunity to be healthy and ready for school, Head Start was established as a federally funded preschool experience for 3- and 4-year-old children serving low-income and special needs children and their families. The State of Minnesota makes available additional funds to serve even more children and families. The Head Start program offers comprehensive services that help children grow mentally, socially, emotionally and physically and there is no fee for families to participate in Head Start.
Head Start recognizes that you are the first and most important teacher of your children. You are encouraged to become involved in classroom activities, in developing center programs and in decision-making for program planning and operation. To better serve you and your child, Head Start staff will also connect you with other community agencies and resources.
In a Head Start classroom, your child can explore toys, books, games and activities geared to his or her interest. Head Start teachers are professionally trained early childhood educators, meet rigorous qualifications and participate in ongoing training.
Classes include many learning activities for preschool children, such as:
When your child is enrolled in a Head Start program, she or he receives either breakfast and lunch, or lunch and a snack every day, depending on the program's design. All of the meals are designed to be nutritious, are served family style and are free for all enrolled children. In addition, developmental and health screenings are provided to all children and hearing and vision checks are also available. You will receive assistance if your child requires special medical services.
Some Minnesota Head Start programs offer full day/full year services through their own program or as a partner with a child care or school district program. Bus transportation is available for children enrolled in some programs in Minnesota.