The following services are provided as part of the Kids Incorporated Early Head Start program:
Early Education & Care:
The philosophy of the center based classrooms is founded on play-based, child-centered and individualized curriculum to promote development in all school readiness domains, primary care giving and multi-age programming with a strong parent component. School readiness goals means the expectations of children's status and progress across the domains of language and literacy, cognition and general knowledge, approaches to learning, physical well-being and motor development, and social and emotional development will improve children's readiness for kindergarten. Strategies for high quality teaching and learning to achieve established school readiness goals include our curricula, developmental assessments, teacher/child interaction, well organized environments with purposeful materials and activities to guide behavior and promote skill acquisition and positive outcomes. The school readiness framework includes the child, family and community.
The Kids Incorporated EHS program utilizes the Creative Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers. The child development staff ensures children are provided with opportunities to optimally develop. Recognizing parents/guardians are the child's primary educators, our staff works in a collaborative relationship with parents or guardians. A variety of materials, activities, and opportunities for exploration are made available which support all ages and development levels, styles of learning, cultural preferences, and interests in order to help children gain the social competence, skills and confidence necessary to be prepared to succeed in school and life. Activities are planned at the early learning facilities to encourage individual and group play that give children the opportunity to experience success. Through close observation child development staff facilitates active learning which allows children to explore and develop at their own pace.
Early Head Start actively recruits children with disabilities through collaboration with the State Part C Provider (Early Steps program). The classrooms are arranged and equipped to ensure the ease of mobility for all children and child development staff. Daily routines, activities, and experiences will be arranged to achieve the goals of the child's Individual Family Service Plan.
A variety of books, pictures and music are used in the classroom. Child development staff encourages and invites the families to bring in items appropriate for infants and toddlers that they would like to share which represent their culture. Child development staff avoids activities and materials that steriotype or limit children. All centers have a ratio of 1 adult to 4 children, with no more than 8 children in each classroom, along with 2 teachers. Foster Grandparents, provided by Elder Care Services, provide an extra set of hands in the classroom. They rock and feed babies, wipe noses, read to children, help with activities and assist in a variety of other ways. In addition, other volunteers are sometimes in the classrooms, assisting teachers.
Services to Pregnant Women:
Goals of the prenatal program are to:
- empower pregnant women to reach their full potential
- support pregnant women in preparing for the birth of their child and becoming a parent
- support healthy pregnancies and deliveries for at-risk pregnant women
- support new mothers and their families as they transition to child development programs
These services include access to comprehensive prenatal and postpartum health care, prenatal education, and breastfeeding education. Eage pregnant women (family) is assigned a Family Advocate to help ensure a health pregnancy and delivery. The Partners for Healthy Baby Curriculum is used. In addition, the prenatal program offers parenting education and family support. Within 2 weeks of a birth, the family and newborn are visited by a Family Advocate and the Healthy & Disability Coordinator. A Mental Wellness Consultant is available to work with post-natal mothers to counsel those suffering from post-partum depression. During this visit health educaiton materials are provided.
Prenatal Eligibility Requirements:
To be eligible for the prenatal program, women should be in their first four months of pregnancy and must meet Early Head Start eligibility requirements. In addition to completing the EHS participant application, applicants must provide:
- six weeks of current pay or an employer verification form
- copies of social security cards for all household members
- proof of pregnancy statement
- picture identification
- WIC card
Upon completion of the eligibility requirements, applicants will be notified by letter if they are eligible for participation in the program (based on availability) or if they are over-income. If selected to participate in the program, you will receive a phone call to come into the administrative offices adn complete the enrollment paperwork and begin the program.
The prenatal program is a serious commitment of 8 to 10 months (or until your child transitions to the early education & care program of EHS). Those not wanting to participate in home visits need not apply.
Family & Community Partnership Services:
This is a critical component of the Early Head Start program which provides a variety of services supporting the development of each child and family enrolled in the program. The overall goal is to empower families in becoming self-sufficient.
This program works to provide families with a system of support to help them reach their individual goals and objectives. Family Advocates work collaborately with community partners and parents to build strong, trusting relationships and partnerships to support growth and development. Parents play a key role in developing and setting programmatic goals for their family. Opportunities for parent involvement include parent meetings, policy council, home visits, volunteering and early education & care team staffings.
Parent training is provided to enhance skills and knowledge. Monthly parent meetings run by parents for parents provide an opportunity for an exchange of information. Parent interest surveys are provided at the time of enrollment in order for parents to offer feedback on training topics they would like the program to offer.
Transitioning our Early Head Start children is an on-going process. Family Advocates work with the families six months prior to the child's 3rd birthday to determine where the child will transition once they leave the EHS program. Information about various options is provided families in order to facilitate a smooth transition process.
Community partnerships are one of the key rols of the EHS program. They serve as the link between families and available community services. It is Kids Incorporated's practice not to "reinvent the wheel". Instead of developing new programs and offering them ourselves, we partner with organizations that provide other necessary services our families may need.
Health & Disability Services:
Kids Incorporated provides comprehensive health services to EHS prenatal clients and children birth to three years of age. The goal is to support healthy physical development by encouraging practices that prevent illness or injury and by promoting positive, culturally relevant health behaviours that enhance life long well being. The comprehensive health services include medical, dental, nutritional and menatl health. Disability services are also provided to assist and support children with diagnosed disabilities and their families. The services are individualized to meet the needs of each child and family. The prenatal clients and parents are encouraged to be involved in all aspects of their child's health care, helping them to learn about the importance of prevention, early detection and treatment.
Kids Incorporated has outside consultants available to serve families. A family therapist schedules monthly appointments to visit each center, meeting with parents and conducting classroom observations. The therapist is also available to assist a family through a crisis period. A pediatric nurse assists with training staff on health issues and a nutritionist helps staff develop menus and ensure nutritional health needs of children and families are being met.
Screening and assessment provides valuable information about each child's development. Upon entering the program, all EHS children receive sensory, developmental and behavioral screens to determine health and/or developmental concerns. The ASQ-SE screening tool is used to identify any delays or special needs that a child may have. Results are used to determine further evaluation. If concerns are found, a meeting with staff and parents is held and a plan of action development that may include further evaluation or referral(s) to a community partner. Follow-up meetings are held to ensure concerns are adequately addressed. Health, nutrition and mental health consultants are available to join in these meetings and evaluations. The E-LAP and LAP3 (pre-mid-post) assessment tools are used to identify a child's approximate developmental age and developmental skills in sensory, behavior, physical, motor, language, social, cognitive, perceptual, and emotional skills. Results are used by staff to individualize planning to meet each child's individual needs. Teachers document progress using portfolios with observation notes, photos and work samples. On-going assessment monitors child's progress. Regular screening and assessment help identify if the program is having a positive impact on each child's development. Children also receive annual hearing, vision and dental screening.
Dental Days & Health Screenings:
Within 90 days of entry into the program, a free professional oral exam is provided by the staff at the health department in each of the three counties served, followed by annual exams thereafter. Parents are encouraged to participate with dental days. Once a year, in collaboration with the FSU School of Nursing, children have the opportunity to receive a free health screen.
Community partners assist in the wellness of our children and families. Among these partners, Early Steps and Children's Medical Services collaborate to provide therapy and support services to children with diagnosed disabilities.
A Kids Incorporated EHS Health Services Advisory Committee is composed of parents, program staff, and representatives of the local health community in the three counties served by this program. The committee serves as a way our program can build strong partnerships that help us determine when, where and how our children and families receive their health services. This Committee is an important component of our program, particularly as it relates to providing advice and resources to help ensure we offer quality comprehensive health services to the children and families we serve.
Staff members work with parents to identify the children's nutritional needs. The staff takes into account the child's height and weight, health history, current eating patterns, including cultural preferences, and special dietary requirements.
As a program whose meals are funded by the Child Care Food Program, we implement a nuitrition program that meets the nutritional needs and feeding requirements of each of the infants and toddlers. The EHS program uses the meal pattern requirements designated by the US Department of Agriculture. Based on these guidelines, our nutrionist prepares the menus (one for toddlers and another for 8-12 month olds). Children are served family-style meals.
Note: Parents are responsible for providing transportation for their children to and from the Early Head Start center.