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Family and Social Services Administration

DFR Home > Head Start & Early Head Start > Education and Early Childhood Development Education and Early Childhood Development

Major Federal Performance Standards

  • Ensure the learning environment is developmentally and linguistically appropriate, recognizing children have individual rates of development as well as individual interest, temperaments, cultural backgrounds, and learning styles.
  • Ensure the learning environment supports the development of each child’s social and emotional development, cognitive, language skills, and physical skills.
  • Provide a program of services for infants and toddlers which encourages the development of a secure relationship between children and their teacher, and supports their social, emotional, and physical development.
  • Implement a curriculum that individualizes experiences, integrates the educational aspects of all program areas, helps to develop children’s social relationships, enhances each child’s understanding of self, and provides for the development of the whole child.
  • Involve parents in the program’s curriculum and approach to child development and education, and in staff-parent conferences and home visits. Ensure parents have opportunities to observe their children and to share their assessments with staff to plan individualized learning experiences.

Early Education Service Options
2001 Enrollment Information by option:

Center Based Option: During the 2000-01 program year 13,570 children were enrolled in early education centers (center based option).

  • 89% of all children enrolled in Head Start/Early Head Start were enrolled in some type of center based option.
  • 43% of all children enrolled in Head Start/Early Head Start were enrolled in a double session center based option. Double sessions involve programming for two separate groups of children served in one room. One group attends a morning session and a different group attends an afternoon session.
  • 2268 Children were enrolled in center based programming that provided full day services for five days a week. In Head Starts a full day is defined as six or more hours per day.
  • 1546 Children were enrolled in center based programming that provided part day services for five days a week. Of these children 743 or 48% were enrolled in double session programming.
  • 8315 Children were enrolled in a center base programming that provided 4 or 4/5 days a week programming. Of these children 5039 or 61% of the children were served in double sessions.

Home Based Option: This is a program option where services are provided to children primarily in the child’s home, through intensive work with the child’s parents and family as the primary factor in the growth and development of the child.

  • 904 or 7% of all children enrolled in Head Start/Early Head Start were enrolled in this option. Of these children 468 were enrolled in the Early Head Start programs. This represents 68% of all Early Head Start children.

Combination Option: This is a program option that involves a combination of center and home based services.

  • 468 or 3% of all children enrolled in Head Start/Early Head Start were enrolled in this option.

Locally Designed Option: This program option is determined as a result of a local community assessment of needs and is designed to meet the unique needs of a specific area or community.

  • 69 of all children enrolled in Head Start/Early Head Start were enrolled in this option.

Child Health & Safety

  • Establish and implement policies and procedures to respond to medical and dental health emergencies.
  • Ensure rules regarding the temporary exclusion of a child with short-term injury or an acute or short-term contagious illness are followed; ensure program participation is not excluded over the long-term solely on the basis of health care needs or medication requirements unless keeping the child poses a significant risk which cannot be reduced to an acceptable level.
  • Establish and maintain written procedures regarding the administration, handling, and storage of medications
  • Follow good hygiene and sanitation practices, using universal precautions.

Mental Health

  • Work collaboratively with parents to identify mental health concerns and support their participation in any interventions.
  • Organize a regular schedule for on-site mental health consultation to promote children’s mental health wellness and to provide assistance for those with identified mental health needs, and
  • Secure the services of mental health professionals for timely and effective identification and intervention in family and staff concerns about a child’s mental health.

Child Nutrition

  1. The identification of each child’s nutritional needs through consultation between staff and parents.
  2. The design and implementation of nutritional services programs. Programs use funds from the USDA Child Nutrition programs.
  3. Meal service in center-based programs. Toddlers, preschoolers, classroom staff and volunteers in these programs eat together family style. Part day center-based programs must provide at least 1/3 of the child's daily nutritional needs; full day programs must provide 2/3 of the child's daily needs.
  4. Family assistance with nutrition. Programs provide assistance with nutrition to parents through education. Home-based programs provide appropriate snacks and meals to each child when children gather for group socialization periods.
  5. Food safety and nutrition programs provide information via parent education activities.

A child’s healthy development is promoted through ongoing communication between staff and families concerning nutrition-related child assessment data, family eating patterns, the child’s feeding schedules and eating preferences, and community nutritional issues.

Family Partnerships

  • Engage in a process of collaborative partnerships with individual families to develop a Family Partnership Agreement. The process includes establishing mutual trust; identifying family goals, strengths, and necessary services and supports; establishing the roles that staff and families will play in addressing the goals; and building upon, as appropriate, information obtained from the family and other community agencies concerning preexisting family plans and goals;
  • Work collaboratively with participating parents to identify and access services and resources that are responsive to each family’s interests and goals;
  • Ensure parents are provided opportunities to enhance their own parenting skills, knowledge, and understanding of the educational and developmental needs and activities of their children, and to participate in medical, dental, nutrition, and mental health education programs;
  • Ensure parents and children are provided opportunities to participate in family literacy services, either directly or through referrals to other local agencies;
  • Assist pregnant women in the Early Head Start program to access, through referrals, a system of prenatal and postpartum care; prenatal education including fetal development, labor and delivery, and postpartum care; and information on the benefits of breast-feeding; and,
  • Assist parents in becoming their child’s advocate with schools and other community agencies by: providing a staff-parent meeting at the end of a child’s enrollment to discuss the child’s process; providing education and training to parents to prepare them to exercise their rights and responsibilities concerning their child’s education; and assisting parents to communicate with teachers.

Human Resources Management

  • Establish and maintain an organizational structure that adequately supports the program and assigns to staff the functions of program management, the management of early childhood development and health services, and the management of family and community partnership activities.
  • Ensure staff and consultants have the knowledge, skills, and experience they need to perform their assigned functions; the director must have skills relevant to human services program management and content area experts must be staff or consultants with knowledge, skills and experience relevant to their content areas; specific education or certification requirements must be met by infant-toddler and preschool teachers, health staff who perform procedures that require licensure, the manager of nutrition services, providers of certain mental health services, and the fiscal officer.
  • When a majority of children speak the same language, ensure that at least one classroom staff member with children speaks their language.
  • Meet class size requirements for all age groups.
  • Orient new staff to the program; perform annual performance reviews of all staff and use the results to identify training and professional development needs; implement a structured approach to staff training and development, attaching academic credit whenever possible; orient and train governing body and policy group members to enable them to carry out their responsibilities effectively.
  • Assure that each staff member has an initial health examination that includes screening for tuberculosis and a periodic re-examination in accordance with State, Tribal, or local laws. Also assure that all regular volunteers are screened for tuberculosis in accordance with State, Tribal, or local laws, or as recommended by the Health Services Advisory Committee.