Head Start is a community based local government program in the United States. Head Start was launched in 1965 and is a program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. It provides funding to local private, public, non-profit, and profit agencies to enable them to provide child services to less fortunate children and families. It enables these children to develop early learning skills that will facilitate them to succeed later in school. The program provides health, education and social services to children between the ages of three to five together with their families. The program also caters for toddlers and pregnant mothers through provision of health related services.
High qualifications are required for all the Head Start teachers. All Head Start teachers are required to have a degree of a baccalaureate or higher level in early childhood education and to have the experience in teaching at a pre-school institution. A teacher without a degree must have a Child Development Credential, a credential awarded upon submitting the documentation of training and experience in early childhood education. These qualifications certify that these staff members have the capacity to address children’s needs in collaboration with the parents. Considering that these are young children, they require exceptional care, since they are still developing and at this stage everything that they learn goes into building their knowledge of the world.
Head Start consults with governors or their representatives, government officials, the Head Start policy council and other appropriate community representatives. Head Start incorporates the participation of parents in their children’s education by making them aware of their children’s progress towards academic achievements and employment goals. This is possible through involving parents in overseeing the programs provided by Head Start. Head Start thus has a decentralized organizational process through involving parents and government representatives in their management to be partners in the running of the program. Involving the community in the program helps to receive feedback from the community and hence enabling Head Start to measure their performance.
Head Start has launched an initiative to expand its child related services. Through their partnerships with childcare agencies, they intended to expand their half day service to full day in order to allow the parents of these children from low income families work all day instead of a half day. Since the program targets children and families in a the low earning bracket, this expansion will be instrumental to enable these parents work for longer hours to increase their income to support these children better. This expansion also targets to increase the number of beneficiaries of this program up to fifty thousand from the current number enrolled.
There are laws that prohibit any involvement of Head Start in associating with any political activities. This is following a bill that seeks to exempt all organizations from political involvement. This also helps to maintain their relationship with the community through avoiding biases in communities that would be created through political differences. The administration of Head Start is also free from any political interference to ensure that the community is served with the interest of the people in mind rather than the political self-gain.
Planning in Head Start involves the top management and the shareholders. The planning involves collecting data from the participants and beneficiaries of the program, analyzing this data, deliberating on data from every source to try to come up with the ways to collect more data, define priorities to focus on the development and coming up with solutions, which lead to the creation of a plan. This plan is then presented to the policy council and to the key decision makers for approval or recommendation for further deliberation.