Welcome to Head Start
Head Start was established in 1965 by the Office of Economic Opportunity to provide pre-school children from less privileged families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs. Head Start also encourages full participation of the entire family in its provision of services. There are opportunities for parents to become directly involved in the policy making and decision making aspects of the Head Start program. Parent committees offer opportunities for parents to become involved with advocacy issues which affect their children and the program as a whole. There are opportunities for parents to volunteer in the classroom, in the community or in many other activities which directly affect the Head Start program. There are opportunities for training which may lead to academic gains and future employment, perhaps with Head Start.
Your time with Head Start can be an exciting and rewarding opportunity for you and your entire family. If this is your child’s first school experience, then we intend to provide you with a life changing experience, through the unique services which we have to offer.
Prince George’s County Public Schools oversees the operation of the Head Start program, through its Board of Education. Over 800 children and families are currently being served in schools and communities throughout Prince George’s County; and by certified Early Childhood Teachers.
We welcome you with open arms to our Head Start Family, and we invite you to help us to make a positive difference in the lines of all children and families.
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
The mission of the Prince George’s County Public Schools Head Start Program is to provide an integrated system of quality services to participating families and eligible children, by encouraging self-sufficiency, and supporting their growth and development through family and community partnerships.
The Head Start Program provides services to children and families in three major areas. These are as follows:
• Program Design and Management
• Early Childhood Development & Health Services
• Family and Community Partnerships
This handbook provides parents/families with pertinent information from each of these services areas. If you have any questions or need further information, please feel free to call the Head Start Central Office at (301) 408-7100.
Regular attendance is essential for each child’s progress in Head Start. Consequently, Prince George’s County Head Start Program follows the policies and procedures of the school system as well as federal regulations.
As the teacher has the day-to-day responsibility for monitoring student attendance, he/she will be responsible to implement the following plan when a child is absent.
• When a child has an excused absence, the parent or guardian must inform the teacher of the absence, including reason for absence. Contact may be by made by telephone call or written note to the teacher.
• Prince George's County Public Schools considers the following as excused absences:
Death in the immediate family Violent storm
Illness of the child Observance of a religious holiday
Quarantine State emergency
Court Summons *Consideration for transportation and family emergencies are also important.
If the parent /guardian does not contact the teacher on first day of absence, the teacher will contact the parent/guardian to ascertain why the child is absent, and the expected date of return.
For unexcused absences of three or more consecutive days the following action will be taken:
1. The Family Service Worker will contact the family (via home visit and/or telephone contact) on issues related to child’s irregular attendance/absence, with the aim of resolving the problem.
2. The FSW will use the absence contact log to document reasons for unexcused absence/irregular attendance and action taken with family.
3. If the child continues to be absent after 3 days of working with the family, the FSW will send a written referral to the School Instructional Team (SIT).
4. As a member of the SIT, the FSW will attend SIT meetings to share and discuss information and participate in the problem solving process.
5. If the problem persists after the SIT recommendations have been implemented by Head Start staff, a recommendation from the Family and Community Partnership Team Leader will be made to the Program Supervisor for a final decision.
6. The Program Supervisor will contact the Lead Family Service Worker to activate the Waiting List.
7. The Lead FSW will enter the “J” code for the new student into the AS-400 and contact the school notifying of a new entrant. The School Records Secretary will enter the new student with the school code eliminating the “J” code. In addition, the Lead FSW will notify the parent of the start date of the child.
Performance Objective: To maintain an average daily attendance of 85%
The goal is to work with the family to identify and resolve the issues that are related to the child’s irregular attendance/frequent absences, not to terminate the child from the program.
Bus Procedures, Returned Child Policy and Update Information
We need your cooperation in making the Head Start year a productive one for you and your child. The following reminders are very important and should be read very carefully.
With the exception of a few cases, children must ride the bus to and from school. A responsible adult must put the child on the bus in the morning and be there to receive him/her in the afternoon. Inform your child’s teacher, in writing, of the name and telephone number of this responsible adult. This person should be at the bus stop ten (10) minutes before the scheduled pick up and delivery time. The driver is on a rigid time schedule and cannot wait or blow the horn.
If you or another adult bring your child to the center, the child must be taken into the classroom and must be received by a staff person. Do not drop your child off at the school door. Children who are brought to the center by their parent should not arrive until the scheduled classroom starting time. Children walking must be accompanied by an adult and should not arrive until the scheduled classroom starting time. An adult must accompany the child if transported by taxi, to the classroom.
The teachers leave school shortly after the children, therefore, we cannot guarantee that they will be at the school to look after your child if the bus returns him/her there. We must have your cooperation in ensuring that children are not brought back to the center. Parents or a responsible adult must be at the bus stop when the child gets on and off the bus. No child will be discharged unless the parent or responsible adult of that child is present. This is for your child’s safety. If no one is there, your child will be returned to the center, and it is your responsibility to pick up the child by a designated time. If not, Child Protective Services will be contacted.
The school bus driver will only transport Head Start enrolled children. Parents volunteering in the center may ride the bus, provided adequate space is available. The school bus driver is in charge of the bus, pupils, and any other passengers. It is the responsibility of the school bus driver to maintain proper discipline on the school bus at all times. The bus driver will not stop and pick up or discharge passengers except at regularly designated stops. Bus service is a privilege; violation of these rules could results in the suspension of transportation.
Child Returned to School or Bus Lot Policy
The transportation office in conjunction with the Head Start Central Office, have placed the following procedures in effect:
No Adult to Receive Student
Student is returned to school. Bus referral report is completed by driver and turned in to school. The school will contact parent(s) to arrange pick-up of the child. The school will submit information to the Head Start Office.
Student is returned to school. Bus referral report is completed by driver and turned in to school. The school contacts parent(s) to arrange pick-up of the child. The school will immediately contact Family Caseworker. The Family Caseworker will schedule conference/home visit with parent(s) immediately to establish cause of problem and remedy/assist if possible.
Student is returned to school. Bus referral report is completed by driver and turned immediately in to the school. The school contacts parent(s) to arrange pick-up of the child. The school will immediately contact Family Services Worker. The Family Caseworker will schedule conference/home visit with parent(s) immediately to establish cause of problem and remedy/assist if possible. Parents will provide own transportation for the child for three (3) school days.
Within the three (3) day period, Family Caseworker will schedule a conference between parent(s) and Family Services Coordinator. During the conference, the circumstances behind the occurrences will be weighed and a decision to resume or discontinue bus privileges will be made.
In all occurrences, if the parent or guardian is unable to be contacted after the close of the site, the Principal or Designee will immediately contact the Head Start Central Office at (301) 408-7100. A designated Head Start staff person will be available until 5:00pm to work with the school to contact parent(s) or emergency persons.
After 5:00, if the parent or guardian cannot be contacted, the Head Start staff, the Principal or Designee will have no choice but to transfer custody of the child to the Prince George’s County Police Department.
Other Transportation Information
• Once pick-up of a student occurs, the student may not get off the bus until the bus arrives at the school. If any parent intercepts the bus at another bus stop, the parent may not take the child off of the bus. The parent must pick up the student at the school. Upon arrival at school, the parent must sign the student out of school through the front office of the school.
• THE DRIVER WILL NOT LET THE STUDENT OFF THE BUS UNLESS S/HE RECOGNIZES THE ADULT MEETING THE STUDENT AT THE BUS STOP. The bus driver is responsible for the student until s/he is received by an approved adult, appropriate school personnel, or appropriate Head Start staff personnel.
• Bus drivers WILL NOT WAIT at pick-up locations nor are they required to wait at the designated drop-off locations for an approved adult to receive the student.
• When space is available, parents are encouraged to ride the bus to and from school with their children. However, NO SIBLINGS are permitted on the bus-parents only.
• It would be most helpful if the student knew their names and addresses and/or have nameplates with their name, address, and telephone number attached to them or in their book bags.
• Children are to be kept to the front of the bus and remain seated at all times.
• Children must be brought to the stop and picked up from the stop only by parents/guardian/ designated adult over the age of 13.
Change of Pick-up and Delivery
Listed below are the procedures for change of baby-sitter and/or change of address. Whenever you move or change baby-sitter, the following must be done:
1. You must notify the child’s teacher and the Family Service Worker. Your child is to remain at home until you are notified by the bus driver that s/he may return to school with the new changes.
2. The school will notify the Transportation Department via computer that there is to be a change in the location of your child’s pick-up and return. This process will take approximately five (5) working days.
3. The parent(s) may provide transportation for the child to and from school until clearance from transportation.
4. The bus driver will notify you of the date and new times of pick-up from and return to the new location.
In the past, we have had several incidents in which an unauthorized person picked up a child from the center. To avoid this, we will only release a child early when there is an extreme emergency and parents/guardian absolutely cannot meet the child’s bus in the afternoon. The parent/guardian must inform the teacher, school or FSW of the name and telephone number of the individual who will pick up the child from the center. The individual who picks up the child must sign a Special Release Log at the school/center and present identification.
The Family Caseworker in your center will send you an Update Form periodically. It is vitally important that you complete the form so that we will know changes in your address, work or home telephone numbers, and these changes for emergency persons. If you have questions, please contact your FSW or the Head Start Office at 301-408-7100.
If you have any questions or concerns, please channel them through your Family Caseworker.
Child Abuse and Neglect
Maryland State Law mandates the direct reporting of suspected child abuse, both physical and sexual, by every health practitioner, including psychologist; every educator, including teacher, counselor, or other professional employee of any school; a social worker or law enforcement officer, who believes or has reason to believe that a child has been abused by any parent, adoptive parent, or other person who has the permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for the supervision of a child under the age of 18 years. Any other person, including any volunteer of the school system, who has reason to believe a child is abused, is also obligated to make such a report. Any person who has a reasonable belief that a child is neglected due to the absence of or negligence of the child’s parent(s), legal guardian(s), or custodian(s) shall report it. Immunity from civil liability or criminal penalty is extended by the law to those who report in good faith or participate in any related investigation or judicial proceeding.
Students are permitted to take medication during the school day only when it is deemed absolutely necessary and only with the permission of the Certified Medication Administrator.
No medication is to be accepted by school personnel, or allowed to be self-administered under the supervision of school personnel, without the receipt of the appropriate medication authorization form completed by the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s) and physician in its entirety without deletion or alteration. (Such form can be obtained from your school nurse).
Prescription medication will not be accepted by the school system unless it is labeled by a registered pharmacist with: name of medication, name of student, name of physician, date, directions for administration.
Nonprescription medication or over-the-counter drugs must come to school in original container labeled with: name of student, name of physician, date, directions for administration.
Change of Clothes
Neat, clean, and comfortable play clothes are best for children to wear to school. Clothes which they can remove or put on by themselves are helpful in teaching self-help skills. Long dresses, body suits, jump suits, clogs, cowboy boots, and flip flops are difficult for the children to manage and should not be worn to school.
Each family is requested to send a change of clothes to be kept in the Head Start classroom. From time to time we have small accidents and spills which require a change of clothing. Whenever an incident occurs please send a fresh change of clothing on the next school day to replace the set used.
Please provide clothing according to the season of the year, keeping in mind the children’s clothing sizes tend to change during the course of the Head Start year. Write your child’s name on all clothing sent to the Head Start classroom.
The Home Visit is an important part of the Head Start program. Home visits provide program staff with greater familiarity with the children and their families. It also gives the families a greater opportunity to get to know staff. This visit will give your child a chance to meet the Teacher and Assistant in a familiar, comfortable setting. Your child can show them some of the things that are important to him/her at home. He/she can introduce us to his/her brother(s) and sister(s) and pet(s) so that we will know who he/she is talking about when they are mentioned at school. We will answer any questions that you or your child may have about school during this visit.
The Head Start teaching team will make two home visits during the school year. Family Caseworker and other central office staff will also make home visits in order to work in close partnership with families and ensure that needed services are provided.
Confidentiality may be defined as: Containing information whose unauthorized disclosure could be prejudicial to a child, family member, staff, etc. Preserving information that was received in confidence from a family member and disclosing information only to professionals for the benefit of the family.
Confidentiality is maintained at Head Start in accordance with the Prince George’s County Board of Education and Maryland State, and Federal Head Start requirements which also include the federal HIPPA guidelines. All children and families records, personally identifiable data, and sensitive information must be kept in locked files.
All children’s medical, educational and family records are considered confidential and will be accessible only to staff on a “need to know” basis. Head Start parents need to be informed but not necessarily asked to give written consent before the program conducts certain procedures such as: outreach to locate or identify children with disabilities, screening all children (medical, dental, developmental), and observation to complete skill-behavior checklists. Parents must provide fully informed, written consent for any selective individual testing to identify children in need of special education services.
Records will be maintained until five years after they are no longer needed to provide educational services.
Head Start Staff and volunteers will use positive methods of child guidance and will not engage in corporal punishment, emotional or physical abuse, or humiliation. In addition, they will not use methods of discipline that involve isolation, the use of food as punishment or reward, or the denial of basic needs.
If a Head Start parent/family has a complaint about the classroom or other program areas, they are encouraged to first contact the classroom teacher or specific person to discuss the complaint and attempt to resolve the problem. If the problem cannot be resolved at the teacher level, the parent will contact the Education Specialist who will follow established procedure to resolve the problem as quickly as possible. If the problem is in another area, the parent will contact the Program Supervisor for assistance. In both instances described above, these procedures may also include meetings with the parent/family and the appropriate staff such as the school principal/assistant principal, Policy Council Chairperson, and the Coordinating Supervisor of Early Childhood Programs.
Home School Communication
The Head Start Program provides up-to-date information for families through:
• Policy Council Monthly Meeting Minutes
• Teacher Monthly Newsletters
• Policy Council Monthly Newsletters
• Use of Prince George’s County Public School Website/Parent News Icon
• Parent cluster Monthly Meeting Minutes
This information will be disseminated to parents via backpacks.
EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT AND HEALTH SERVICES
Great emphasis is placed on the educational and social needs of each child. Teachers plan and initiate developmentally appropriate activities around thematic curriculum and key experiences. These experiences reflect the basic, long-range goals teachers have for each child. These goals include the following:
* To develop the child’s ability to make decisions.
* To develop self-discipline
* To develop the ability to work with other children and adults.
* To develop the ability for self-expression: to speak, to write, to dramatize, and to graphically represent his/her experiences.
* To develop a spirit of inquiry and of openness to knowledge and the points of view of other people.
* To develop a healthy self-image.
* To develop a healthy body.
The Voluntary Stare Curriculum provides the framework for our educational program. It is designed to encourage the initiation of learning experiences by children. Key experiences for children and on-going observation and assessment form the foundation for this developmental approach to educating young children. Through daily planning and evaluation sessions, teachers provide activities and generate strategies to challenge children’s emerging abilities and to encourage children to develop and pursue their own interests, talents, and goals. This curriculum model encourages teachers to focus on developmental principles and to build on children’s existing strengths and accomplishments.
DIAL-III Child Assessment
This assessment is an individually administered screening test designed to identify young children in need of further diagnostic assessment or curricular modification. DIAL-III takes about 20-30 minutes to administer, but is an un-timed assessment of motor, conceptual, and language behaviors demonstrated by children between the ages of 2 and 6. This screening is administered to every child and will be done within 45 days of the child’s enrollment into the program. The Dial-III is administered and discussed on the Home Visit.
Components of a Head Start Classroom
• Sign in
• Respond to the morning chart
• Journal Writing 20 minutes
Breakfast 20 minutes
• Read Morning Chart
• One Musical Activity 20 minutes
Large Group literacy
• Read Aloud 10-15 minutes
3 Small Group Literacy Rotations
• Teacher small group
• Paraprofessional small group
• Closure/transition 3 x 15 minutes each = 45 minutes
Large Group Math 10-15 minutes
3 Small Group Math Rotations
• Teacher small group
• Paraprofessional small group
• Closure/transition 3 x 15 minutes each = 45 minutes
Gross Motor 20 minutes
Lunch 30 minutes
Rest/health/ISP’s/Quiet Activity 60 minutes
Centers/ISP’s/Snack 60 minutes
Circle/Closure 20 minutes
10 minutes remaining for added transitions. Individual schedules will change to accommodate specials.
ISP = Individual Student Plan: Through the use of ISP’s each child’s individual needs are being met through instruction that has been tailored to meet the specific needs of that child.
Children with disabilities, regardless of the level of severity, are provided with the same Head Start services as all other children and families. Opportunities are provided for them to work inclusively in the Head Start classroom with their peers.
The Disabilities Content Area provides the following including hearing screening:
* Developmental screening for all children to identify children’s strengths and needs.
* Assistance to teaching staff to provide for on-going developmental assessment and
individualized programming .
* Formal assessment to determine whether a child may have a disability and may require
special education and related services.
* Speech/language therapy.
* Arrangement for additional services through collaboration with other agencies.
* Parent education to foster the development of their child.
* Family referrals to support groups and additional information on available resources.
* Assistance with transition into Kindergarten.
* Information and assistance on enrolling their child into a summer program.
The Health Services staff provides a comprehensive on-going health program for the children and their families with emphasis on early identification and prevention of health problems. This is accomplished through:
* health screenings: (vision, hearing, developmental growth, oral health etc.)
* health education for children and parents.
* identification of special health needs with appropriate follow-up.
* assistance to families with referrals and follow-up treatments.
Mental Wellness is an integral component to good health.
Head Start recognizes the importance of mental wellness and therefore provides mental health and psychological support to children and families in order to encourage social and emotional development. A mental health team is available to:
* provide preventive and interventive screening for mental health related concerns.
*discuss the individual needs of children with parents and staff.
* inform parents and staff of current community mental health services and resources.
Opportunities are provided for children, parents, and staff to learn about proper nutrition. Meals are a time for learning, for socializing, and for practicing good food habits. The teachers and volunteers help the children to:
* explore the colors, shape, smells, and tastes of foods.
* classify foods into food groups.
* identify nutritious foods and plan healthy snacks and meals.
* discover how produce is grown, how livestock is raised, how fish are caught and how baked
goods are made.
Your child is entering school for the first time. You must help him/her stay healthy in order to learn. Your family doctor or your child's pediatrician should perform a physical examination, including a hearing and vision test.
You'll want to ask the doctor questions such as:
• How is my child growing?
• Does my child have any special dietary needs?
• What illnesses are common?
• What is the schedule for my child's immunizations ("shots") for school?
view vaccine requirements for children
If your child has special health needs (for example, allergies, chronic illness, disabilities), tell his/her teacher and the school nurse. This will help them take the best possible care of him/her. We require a written note from your doctor if your child must take medicine or treatments, or if your child has allergic reactions.
• Any contagious disease such as measles, chicken pox, etc.
• Sore throat
• Fever of 100* F or more
• Flushed face, especially cheeks
• Runny nose with thick white or greenish mucous
• Severe cough
• Red, itchy eyes
• Head lice
These symptoms may indicate conditions that may be spread to others in the classroom. Please see your health provider before sending your child to school once these symptoms appear.
FAMILY AND COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS
The FCP Mission
The mission of the Family and Community Partnership Content Area is to identify and support children and families as we assist them in assessing their strengths and needs. We also help them to set realistic goals and provide opportunities for them to gain access to needed services so that they may build upon their strengths and move towards self-sufficiency.
Head Start's Family and Community Partnerships Content Area enables our program to participate in a process of building collaborative partnerships with families and the community, as we provide the necessary services and supports which help us to empower our entire community.
The Family Services staff provides services to enable the child and family to obtain maximum benefits from the program. Some of the services provided are:
* Referrals to community agencies
* Family assessments.
* Information about available community resources and their and use.
* Recruitment and enrollment of children, including those with disabilities.
* Emergency assistance and/or crisis intervention.
* Complete dental care.
Every parent is encouraged to volunteer in their child’s classroom, and the Head Start program. Volunteers are an important part of the Prince George’s County Head Start Program. High school and college students, Jaycees, Knights of Columbus, parents of Head Start children, homemakers, retired senior citizens and other community organizations offer their much needed and valuable time.
The mission of Prince George’s County Head Start Positive’s Father Involvement Program is to strengthen Head Start families through the on-going involvement of fathers in Head Start and in the lives of their children. This, in turn, will contribute to the healthy development and improved outcomes of children in the Head Start Program.
The Father Involvement Program encourages the involvement of fathers through the following activities:
• Educating on fatherhood related issues.
• Training in employable skills.
• Supporting and motivating each other through sporting activities and monthly meetings.
• Encouraging involvement with their kids through various father-child activities.
Head Start recognizes the importance of training for staff, parents, and volunteers. This commitment to personal and professional growth results in a variety of training opportunities for adults in all service areas of the program. Parents are invited to participate in training activities at the center, cluster and Policy Council levels.
The program implements a unique initiative to motivate, educate, and provide on-the-job training to Head Start parents. Examples of career/employment development opportunities are:
• 90 hour Early Childhood Certificate
• Referrals for G.E.D. Training
• Referrals for Computer Training
• Child Development Associate Degree (CDA)
Volunteers are an important part of the Prince George’s County Public Schools Head Start Program. Parents are encouraged to volunteer in their children’s classrooms, and the Head Start Program. High school and college students, Jaycees, Knights of Columbus, parent of Head Start children, homemakers, retired senior citizens, and other community organizations offer their much needed and valuable time.
Board of Education Policy requires that volunteers undergo background check and fingerprinting to ensure safety for students, staff, and fellow volunteers at school sites. Volunteers and mentors working on a regular basis with students, in an unsupervised capacity, must undergo a criminal background check with fingerprinting as well as acquire a TB test. Chaperones who will participate in a day field trip or an overnight school trip must undergo a commercial background check. This does not require fingerprinting. Parent Funds will provided for the commercial background check for parents ($10.00) whose children are participating in the Head Start program at no cost to the parent with renewal next year if the child is still in the Head Start Program.
All parents can participate in the policy making and other decisions about the Head Start program as a whole.
PARENTS CAN PARTICIPATE BY:
Volunteer in the classroom.
Work with and support their child’s development at home.
Plan and initiate parent activities.
Take part in the program decision making process.
Take part in community-based activities and program advocacy.
Attend parents’ cluster meetings and trainings.
Contribute to classroom and school activities by assisting at home to prepare material which can be sent to school with the child.
Contributing ideas, suggestions, articles, stories, poems, and literature which can be utilized in the classroom setting to assist in the child’s positive development.
Head Start Parent Committees
The parent committee is established at the center level and is comprised exclusively of parents of children who are currently enrolled in the Head Start Program. This committee provides and opportunity for parents to advocate on behalf of their children, about all expressed needs, including their own.
Rights and Responsibilities of Head Start Parents
1. To take part in decisions affecting the planning and the operations of the program.
2. To help develop adult programs that will improve daily living for me and my family.
3. To be welcomed in the classroom.
4. To choose whether or not to participate without fear of endangering my child's right to be in the program.
5. To be informed regularly about my child's progress.
6. To be always treated with respect and dignity.
7. To expect guidance for my child from teachers, and staff, this will help his/her total individual development.
8. To be able to learn about the operations of the program, including the budget and the level of experience require to fill various positions.
1. To learn as much as possible about the program and to take part in major policy decisions.
2. To accept the program as an opportunity through which I can improve my life and my Children's lives.
3. To take part in the classroom as an observer, a volunteer worker or paid employee, and to contribute my services in whatever way I can toward enrichment of the total program.
4. To provide parent leadership by taking part in elections, to explain the program to other Parents and encourage their full participation.
5. To welcome teachers and staff into my home to discuss ways in which parents can help at home in relation to school experience.
6. To work with teacher, staff and other parents in a cooperative way.
7. To guide my children with firmness which both loving and protective.
8. To offer constructive criticism of the program, to defend it against unfair criticism and to share in evaluating it.
The Head Start Parent's Pledge
I have been informed of my rights and responsibilities as a Head Start parent.
I understand that it is my responsibility to work with the staff and other parents in a cooperative way. I, therefore, pledge to:
Attend as many parent meetings as I can, or send a representative.
Participate in planned parent activities, including training activities.
Volunteer as often as I can in my child's classroom or other aspects of the Head Start program.
Meet with my child's teacher to discuss home and school learning activities that meet the needs of my child, and my child's progress.
Follow through with requests and recommendations from the staff on all matters relating to my child.
Parent's Signature Date