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Mel Gravely

Four Components of Head Start

Head Start takes a comprehensive approach to meeting the needs of young children, also sometimes referred to as servicing the “whole child.” This can include providing a wide array of social support for children and their families, from nutrition and physical activity, to connecting them with social services provided by other agencies, like job training or ESL instruction.

To that end, Head Start is governed at the federal level by the Office of Head Start, which is actually under the Department of Health and Human Services (not The Department of Education). That’s because education, while a very important part of Head Start’s mission, is not the only service that Head Start provides to communities.

The four major components of Head Start:

Education: Providing a variety of learning experiences to help children grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally.

Health: Providing health services such as immunizations, dental, medical, and mental health, and nutritional services, and early identification of health problems.

Parent Involvement: Involving parents in the planning and implementation of activities. Parents serve on policy councils and committees that make administrative decisions; participate in classes and workshops on child development; and volunteer in the program.

Social Services: Provide outreach to families to determine what services they need.

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