Head Start is expanding services with a new facility and a home-based program.
Early Head Start staff members have been providing in-home visits for children 6 weeks to 3 months since early May this year. The home-based option currently serves 56 children, some of which will transition to the new Head Start facility upon its opening. Others will continue to receive 90-minute home visits once a week.
Monitoring child development and making necessary referrals will fill an important need for parents who are not ready to send their child to a child care setting but want them to receive the instruction they need. Home visits will also provide staff a unique opportunity to teach the entire family how to use the home as a learning environment and enhance parenting skills.
“Parents are the child’s first and most important teacher. They know the child better than anyone else. The home is the natural learning environment and this is where the child will learn best,” says Janet Ballard, Early Head Start Education Coordinator.
Since a child’s capacity for learning is so high during these first three years, the Early Head Start program will be reaching children at a critical time in their development.
The home visit program will not be without its challenges, but it provides a unique advantage as well. Day-to-day life inside a home may not always provide the most conducive learning environment, but staff will also have the opportunity to work one on one with a child, a situation not always easy to provide in a classroom. Staff will work closely with families to build the appropriate positive learning environment.
For now, Early Head Start, which serves children from birth to three years old, is focusing its efforts on Monroe County. Once the program really settles in, the staff hopes to expand the program to serve other children.
The new Head Start facility is located at Jack’s Defeat Creek Mall near Ellettsville. The facility will be home to three Early Head Start classrooms, one Head Start classroom, and several support staff offices.