There are three major service areas in Head Start: Early Childhood Development and Health Services, Family and Community Partnerships, and Program Design and Management. Head Start operates under detailed federal regulations and program performance standards to ensure quality, comprehensive services in all areas.
Education and Early Childhood Development
The Head Start education component is designed to meet the individual needs of each child. Learning experiences which foster physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development are provided. Guam Head Start Program uses the Creative Curriculum. Lesson plans are designed with the concept that children learn through play and literacy is emphasized. The progress of children is monitored through performance indicators.
Because the child’s self-esteem is so critical to the learning process, activities which promote a positive “I am special” concept are integrated into daily lessons. The concept that the child is a member of a larger community is addressed. Head Start strives to build the child’s ethnic pride while respecting the cultural backgrounds of others.
Health and Early Childhood Development
Head Start emphasizes the importance of prevention and early identification of health problems. All children are required to have physical examinations including up-to-date Immunizations, Tuberculosis Screening, and Blood tests, Hearing tests, Vision tests and Dental exam prior to entering Head Start. If treatment is necessary to correct health problems, help is available through the child’s family medical resources, community health agencies, and/or Head Start.
Most Head Start children go through a screening process prior to enrollment. Areas screened include developmental screening in the areas of fine and gross motor skills, speech and language, concepts, behavior, self-help, hearing, vision, as well as height and weight. Other screenings are also done during the school year. Continuing health education is provided for children and parents of Head Start.
The Head Start Program enrolls children with disabilities. Our goal is to serve a minimum of ten percent (10%) of the total enrollment. All children learn from their classmates through play, social interaction activities, imitation, teaching, etc. Children with disabilities need to be with their peers to also experience and have opportunities to learn.
This service area works closely with the Division of Special Education (SPED) to ensure all other service areas to meet the individual needs of the family and child and coordinates services for children with special needs and their families.
Head Start recognizes the importance of providing mental health and psychological services to children to encourage their social and emotional development. As part of Head Start’s comprehensive services, the Mental Health component focuses on the promotion of positive self-worth, respect for individual differences, and the ability to develop appropriate social skills. Accomplishments in these areas will affect a child’s ability to play, love, learn, and work within the home, school and other environments. All fit together to form the foundation of a mentally healthy person.
As part of our prevention efforts, Head Start also provides counseling, workshops, and information on appropriate mental health practices are available to parents and staff through various community agencies and organizations.
Head Start offers parents opportunities and support for growth, so that they can identify their own strengths, needs and interests, and find their own solutions. The objective of Family Partnerships is to support parents as they identify and meet their own goals, nurture the development of their children in the context of their family and culture, and advocate for communities that are supportive of children and families of all cultures. The building of trusting, collaborative relationships between parents and staff allows them to share with and to learn from one another.
Head Start staffs advocate for Head Start families, both in social changes and in helping with their immediate needs. One of the purposes of this service area is to ensure that every Head Start family gets information, access to community services, and benefits to which they are entitled. The Head Start staff work with individual families to link them with resources in the community and assist with their general goals.
Parents are the most important influence on a child’s development. Because of this, Head Start is based on a partnership between parents/guardians and Head Start Program Staff. Participation in parent-child projects and/or activities support class lesson plans and activities. Parent involvement is also highly encouraged in the operations of Head Start through participation in Center Level Parent Groups and/or the Guam Head Start Policy Council.
An essential part of every Head Start Program is the involvement of parents as volunteers in the Program. In their capacity as volunteers, parents learn more about their child’s development and their role as the primary educator of their children. Parents are also able to obtain experiences helpful for future employment. Your involvement is essential to the success of the Program and most especially, to your child’s development.
Although services through Head Start are coordinated by Head Start Staff, the provision of services is most often a collaborative effort between the Head Start program and partners in the community, both public and private. Head Start serves families within the context of the community, and recognizes that many other agencies and groups work with the same families. The objective of Community Partnerships is to ensure that Head Start collaborates with partners in the community, in order to provide the highest level of services to children and families, to foster the development of a continuum of family centered services, and to advocate for a community that shares responsibility for the healthy development of children and families of all cultures.
Program Design and Management
The objective of Program Design and Management is to provide the foundation for quality services to children and families. Strong committed governing bodies and policy groups that represent Head Start parents and the larger community are established to provide effective leadership to, and oversight of the program. In Guam, these bodies are the Guam Education Policy Board (GEPB) and the Guam Head Start Policy Council (GHSPC).
Parents are an important aspect of the shared decision-making process in every Head Start Program. Many serve as members of the Center Level Parent Groups (CLPG) or the Guam Head Start Policy Council (GHSPC) and have a voice in program planning, operating activities, as well as administrative managerial decisions.
Head Start promotes excellence in program management as a primary support for quality services provided to young children and their families. The Head Start Performance Standards govern the services that programs must provide and the standards they must adhere to in operating Head Start. Programs are required to establish management systems and procedures that effectively support programming and ensure success.
A part of Head Start's program management and quality assurance is the annual program self-assessment. Each agency is mandated by the Head Start Performance Standards to assess the quality of its Head Start program on an annual basis. This process must involve parents and must be approved by the Policy Council.
An on-site program triennial review by and annual reports to the Office of Head Start, Region IX also help to ensure program quality.