Frequently Asked Questions

 

APPLYING FOR HEAD START

What is Head Start?
Head Start provides comprehensive educational, emotion, social, health, and nutritional services for preschool aged children (3-5 yrs.) and their families. Children are provided with a variety of age-appropriate early childhood education/learning experiences. They participate in indoor and outdoor play and are encouraged to express their feelings. Meals are served to every child along with a snack when they arrive. Parent involvement is encouraged by parents volunteering in the classroom, attending local parent meetings at each center and making decisions regarding their child’s education. Families are provided with assistance and referrals to various agencies and resources that may be needed.

How do I register my child?
Applicants must meet Federal low-income guidelines. We are federally mandated to serve low-income children and their families. Head Start has 34 centers and 18 Home Based areas that we serve. These are listed on our website, along with contact information and addresses.

To begin registration process for your child, please bring your child’s birth certificate, immunization record, and proof of income to the center nearest to you. We offer education, health, nutrition, disability, and family support services. Transportation is available at designated locations. Call (559) 263-1527 for more information. We take applications year round. Office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday.

What do I need to register my child?

  • Child’s Birth Certificate
  • Proof of Income (W-2, 1040, TANF)
  • Immunization Record

What is a referral?
A referral is information taken on the child and the family to begin the registration process.

Does a referral put my child on a wait list? Or is that an application?
No, it does not put your child on a wait list or automatically enroll your child. It is used to begin the process of applying to Head Start.

How long after I register will my child be able to get into Head Start?
Once the application is complete, it depends on the waiting list at the center. The number of vacancies varies at each Head Start center.

 

EDUCATION

What would be my child’s routine in a Head Start program?
Most children who enroll in Head Start attend a half-day center-based program. However, some communities may operate a full-day program or provide Head Start services through a home-based setting. In a home-base program, staff called Home Base Educators teach parents how to provide learning experiences for their own children.

Some Center-Based programs offer children transportation to and from home.

Classroom time includes many different activities. Some teachers begin the day by asking the children to sit in a circle. This encourages the children to talk about an idea or experience they want to share with others. In some centers, the children plan their activities. They may choose art, playing with blocks or table toys, science activities, dancing to music, looking at books, or pretend housekeeping. Children can switch activities if they prefer another challenge.

Each day, they have time to work in a small group with other children and to play outdoors on safe playground equipment.

At mealtime, children receive a nutritious meal and brush their teeth. All the children are taught to wash their hands before meals and are encouraged to develop good personal and health habits.

What is school readiness?
Head Start defines school readiness as children possessing the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for success in school and for later learning and life. The Head Start Approach to School Readiness means that children are ready for school, families are ready to support their children’s learning, and schools are ready for children. Head Start is a leader in the early childhood field with a strong, clear, and comprehensive focus on all aspects of healthy development, including physical, cognitive, and social and emotional development, all of which are essential to children getting ready for school.

 

HEALTH SERVICES

My child has speech problems, what do I do?
Call your local school and ask for an appointment to have him or her evaluated for speech.

What is Health Services?
The responsibility of Health Services is to ensure that all children receive comprehensive health services (medical and dental) as required in the Performance Standards. Detailed medical histories and health records are kept. Early detection of health issues and prevention are primary objectives. Teachers are instructed in CPR and First Aid in the event that health staff is not present at the site. The Health Staff conduct programs of health education directed to the children, staff, and parents. Referrals are made when resources are available and needed. A Health Services Advisory Committee (HSAC) composed of staff, community professionals and parents meets twice a year and functions in an advisory and planning capacity to meet the health and nutrition services of the program.

Do you have a copy of my child’s dental and immunization records? I need it for Kindergarten.
The most current information regarding your child’s dental and immunization records would be with your doctor and dentist. We can fax your child’s dental and immunization records to your child’s new school, provided we have the accurate fax number.

 

NUTRITION SERVICES

Does Head Start charge for the meals served to children?
No. Head Start provides a breakfast (for children attending in the morning) or afternoon snack and lunch at no charge to parents by utilizing the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

If my child has a food allergy, sensitivity or requires a medical accommodation, will I have to bring his meal?
Because Head Start is a sponsor of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), we will work with each parent to ensure every child enrolled in the program is provided for nutritionally. Parents will need to complete some paperwork and/or have their pediatrician complete a form. Upon receipt of the necessary documents, our Registered Dietitian and highly trained staff will alter or craft a menu specific to your child’s needs.

May I provide a snack or meal prepared from home for my child or the other children?
Fresno EOC Head Start does not allow food from sources outside of our control to be served within our centers to children in our care.

If I have questions about the menu, feeding my child or family or a general nutrition questions, is there anyone who could speak to me about my concerns?
Our Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Services staff are always available to answer your questions about the food children are served, the menu, and sound nutrition practices.

 

SPECIAL NEEDS

My child seems behind others his/her age. What can I do?
Always check with your child’s doctor first, to see if there is a health or physical problem. For example, hearing problems can cause delayed speech or language because a child cannot hear all the sounds properly. The next step is to contact your local school district and ask about a screening to see if your child qualifies for any special education services, such as speech therapy or services from a Hearing or Vision Impairment specialist. School districts offer a variety of services/programs for students with disabilities from age 0-22, and all services are free.

What are the eligibility requirements?
Head Start is a federally-funded program designed to provide services to low-income families who are at or below the federal poverty guidelines. Special consideration is given to foster children, homeless families, and others in specific circumstances. Priority status is given to children who are 4 years old by October 2 of that program year and to children with disabilities who have an IFSP/IEP.

How do I enroll my child in Head Start?
You should complete an application for your child as early as possible in the spring for the best chance for fall enrollment, although applications are taken any time of year. Your child must be 3 years old by October 2nd to qualify for that program year. You may complete an application at your nearest Head Start center or our Head Start Central Office, located at 1920 Mariposa Mall, #200, call (559) 263-1200. You will need to bring the following documents: Proof of Income  (W-2, 1040-TANF), Proof of Age (birth certificate, baptismal record) and immunization record. If your child already has an IEP (Individual Education Plan) or IFSP (IndividualizedFamily Service Plan) from your local school district, bring that in too. Head Start gives priority enrollment points for children with IEPs.

What if my child uses a walker or wheelchair, or has serious health problems?
Head Start accepts children regardless of the type and severity of disability. Most Head Start sites are ADA accessible and at certain locations that offer bus transportation, the buses can accommodate wheelchairs. Head Start staff work together with medical and educational professionals in the community to make sure children’s needs are met.

There is no Head Start center nearby. Is there another preschool option available?
Head Start Home Base offers all the services (education, health, nutrition, family services, parent engagement) just as in center-based programs. Home Base Educators provide in-home services to families weekly and provide classroom socialization activities twice per month.