UCAN Head Start/Early Head Start
UCAN’s Early Head Start/Head Start Programs provide a continuum of comprehensive, no-cost services to improve the lives of children ages newborn-5 and their families in Douglas County. These programs also provide services to eligible pregnant mothers. Most children enrolled in these programs qualify because their families live in poverty, but children can also qualify if they have disabilities or are in foster care. Key services provided by Head Start/Early Head Start include early education, health, nutrition, family strengthening and information and referral.
Early Education/Quality Child Care
Early Head Start/Head Start prepares children for school and life by improving critical skills. Special focus is made to improve learning, mental, emotional, social, literacy and physical skills. Centers have highly qualified early childhood teachers, support staff and parent volunteers providing children rich learning activities. Our nurturing classrooms are filled with colorful, fun, learning materials. Teachers work closely with parents to set goals for their children. While children attend classes, their parents can work or further their own education.
Children learn best when they feel good. Every child enrolled in Early Head Start/Head Start is screened for health and developmental issues, and meets with health and dental professionals at the beginning of the school year. We refer any child with an identified developmental issue to Douglas Education School District to receive additional support services. We ensure parents have a medical and dental “home” for their families. We also make referrals to mental health counselors. We work closely with families to overcome barriers to getting to their doctor and dentist appointments, providing transportation when needed. We have a mental health professional available on-site to address the behavioral needs of children.
Many families and children we serve are hungry, and the meals they eat at home are often not very healthy. We know that hunger and poor nutrition lead to poor school performance, poor health, and lifelong chronic illness. So we provide healthy breakfasts, snacks and lunches for all of our children. We also provide education about healthy eating to parents. When needed, we refer families to their local pantries and kitchens so they can obtain additional food.
Children do best when their families have the support they need to thrive. Our program has staff who specialize in working directly with families. Our staff helps parents identify family goals. We connect parents to resources that will best meet their needs. We offer transportation so families can access community resources. We even make arrangements to obtain important items for families, like beds and appliances. Teachers also meet with parents each year. We encourage parents to volunteer in their children’s classrooms, and offer them the opportunity to develop leadership skills by participating on a Policy Council. We host regular events where parents learn about everything from safety to child development, and families enjoy fun activities with each other.
Head Start provides quality transportation service to children. While traveling to and from school, children enjoy learning from staff on the buses. Our staff sing songs and engage children in activities that add to what they have learned in school. We teach parents and children about pedestrian and school bus safety. We also transport families to field trips, events, and appointments.