Macomb County’s Head Start gives local children a head start

As Head Start children across Macomb County go back to school in 21 school districts, they are welcomed by a bevy of educational opportunities. Since 1965, thousands of children and families have benefitted firsthand from this comprehensive, school-readiness program for low-income residents of the county with children and infants between 0-5 years old.

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Pamela B., the parent of a student at Walsh Head Start in Sterling Heights, said she is grateful for the program.

“It gives us confidence and the reassurance that our children will be ready for school,” she said. “The staff members care about their jobs and work well as a team to make sure every child’s personal strength or weakness is recognized, and then follow through where help is needed.”

Early Head Start (EHS) offers year-round services, either in the home or a local classroom for pregnant women and families of infants and toddlers 0-3 years old. EHS currently partners with six local child care centers and five family child care centers throughout the county for up to 10 hours a day, at no cost to the family. EHS also partners with the Judson Center to offer home-visiting services for our pregnant women and children as an alternative to center-based care.

Head Start is a school-readiness program for 3- and 4-year-old children that offers full-day and half-day classroom options. Classrooms are located in 21 school districts throughout the county, as well as in local early childhood centers and churches.

Head Start 0-5 staff interact with families on a wide variety of early childhood development topics. Head Start embraces a comprehensive vision for health for children, families and staff.  The goal is to support healthy development by encouraging practices that prevent illness or injury and by promoting positive, culturally-relevant health behaviors that enhance lifelong learning and well-being.

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And although a quality education is very important to the program, it isn’t the only thing its staff focuses on. As a former Head Start mother explains, “My insurance provider changed, and my prescriptions are no longer covered. I tried to find help and was left with nothing. I need this medication to function due to an illness I was born with. One day while I was picking up my daughter from school, I was on the phone with my insurance company. The teacher overheard and asked me if there was anything she could do to help. I explained to her what was going on, and right away she wrote down a website, and the following day she placed a letter in my daughter’s mailbox with other places that could help. My daughter’s teacher has been a great help to me, and without her help, I wouldn’t have my medication. I’m very grateful to her for everything she does.”

For more information on Head Start, visit
http://mca.macombgov.org/MCA-CFS-HeadStart or call (586) 469-5215.

Sarah Bissa and Steve Gay are program coordinators for Macomb Community Action’s Head Start. 

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