Early Head Start (EHS) is a federally funded community-based program for low-income families with infants and toddlers and pregnant women. The mission is simple:
EHS is built on the following principles for serving children and families: High Quality & Comprehensive Services, Prevention and Promotion, Positive and Continuous Relationships with Children and Families, Parent Involvement, Inclusion of all Children, Cultural Sensitivity, Flexibility and Responsiveness, Transitions into Head Start or other pre-k programs, and Collaboration with Community Partners.
Head Start serves three- and four-year-old children with comprehensive preschool and child development services. The MAISD partners with area school districts to serve more than 900 Head Start children throughout Muskegon and Oceana Counties. The program’s main goal is to provide a high-quality, comprehensive preschool program and thus help prepare children for success in school and in life. All children in Head Start are served in pre-school classrooms, whereas in Early Head Start children are served in the home.
Yes. Because so many families and children are eligible to participate in Early Head Start, federal rules require the local program to develop “priorities” for acceptance into the program. Women and children fitting into these priorities receive “preference points,” but anyone who is eligible for Early Head Start may and should apply.
Based on community data, the following priorities have been identified in Muskegon and Oceana Counties:
Persons must also meet one of the income eligibility guidelines listed in the prior question in order to be considered for participation in Early Head Start.
Initial documentation needed to be considered for enrollment:
Completed Early Head Start application
Signed Program Requirements
Proof of family income
Additional documentation required upon enrollment:
The child's latest immunization records and health exam,
including health history records
Copy of the child’s birth certificate
Emergency contact information
If any document is not available, Early Head Start staff works with families to get them completed. Please call 231-767-7253 for assistance.
The federal government gives Head Start of Muskegon/Oceana 80 “slots” for Early Head Start. Unfortunately, community data shows that more than 2,000 persons are eligible to receive Early Head Start services. Therefore, waiting lists are often very large to attend Early Head Start.
Regardless of waiting lists, anyone interested in participating should apply. If you don’t apply, there is no way to get into the program!
Absolutely. More than ten percent of all children attending Early Head Start have special needs. Head Start staff works closely with Early On and local special education departments to ensure proper placement and services for any child with an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
Early Head Start families receive home-based services on a weekly basis.
A one and one-half hour visit is made to the home by an Early Head Start Family Services Worker.
Parents are key to a child’s development and learning. Parent involvement is critical to forming a good partnership with Early Head Start. Early Head Start staff works with families providing numerous at-home activities for parents to work on with their children. These at-home activities are great ways for parents to help their child grow to be great learners! Monthly socialization meetings are held so EHS families can come together to learn and have fun. Parent and family nights are also held at each Head Start site throughout the two counties at which EHS families are encouraged to attend and form friendships with Head Start families. EHS parents also have the opportunity to serve in leadership roles making decisions about the program through the Policy Council.
Stuart M. Jones
Early Childhood Services
Birth-to-Three Services Specialist