Head Start Children’s Program

little girl The Head Start program provides comprehensive services to support the mental, social, and emotional development of children aged three to five. In addition to educational services, programs provide children and their families with health, nutrition, social, and other services. Head Start services are responsive to each child and family’s ethnic and cultural heritage. Head Start encourages the role of parents as their child’s first and most important teacher. The Head Start program builds relationships with families that support positive parent-child relationships, family well-being, and connections to peers and the community. Head Start bubbles outdoorsservices are family centered and community-based. We offer family members opportunities and support for growth and change, believing that people can identify their own strengths, needs, and interests and are capable of finding solutions. The Head Start Program offers both center and home based programming.

Families interested in enrolling their children in early childhood programs. If interested in enrolling a child 0-3 years of age contact 269-673-5472, ext 309. If interested in enrolling their child 3-5 years old please visit the website: www.allegancountypreschool.org

Our Commitment is:

To create respectful and caring partnerships with families and the community in an effort to provide high quality, innovative child development programming and family support services that encourage self-sufficiency.

Head Start Services

Children and parents participating in the Head Start program receive the following services free of charge:

  • Comprehensive education
  • Healthy meals and snacks
  • Child Development screenings
  • Assistance with medical/dental services
  • Special needs assistance
  • Family support services
  • Parent involvement/education opportunities

Head Start Eligibility

  • Head Start – children must be age 3 or 4 by December 1
  • Families must meet income guidelines (Please be prepared to share your annual income information during the registration/application process.)
  • Children must have a physical exam to participate
  • Children of all abilities are accepted
  • Must be residents of Allegan County
  • Enrollment is prioritized based on individual and family needs

Head Start Program Options

Center Based Program

  • Serving preschool aged children
  • School year program – classes run from September to May
  • 3 1/2 hour class sessions Monday through Thursday
  • 6 hour class sessions (8:00 to 3:00) Monday through Thursday
  • Additional program offerings:  meals provided, indoor and outdoor learning, transportation may be available, centers located in Allegan, Fennville, Martin, Otsego, Hopkins and Wayland

Home Based Program

  • Serving children 3 to  5 years old
  • Year round program
  • 1 1/2 hour weekly home visits and 2 play groups per month
  • Additional program offerings: parent and child focused, transportation may be available to play group for families with preschool age children, available county wide, playgroups are held at various locations throughout county

Head Start Transportation

  • Head Start may offer transportation for preschool children age 3 and older
  • All Head Start children must ride in a car restraint or seat provided by Head Start
  • Families may self-transport

Head Start Center Locations

Community Action of Allegan County sponsors eight different Head Start location options and a Home-Based Program designed to meet the needs of our County. Each of these locations is shown below with their addresses and Google Map of the location. ALLEGAN: Pine Trails Elementary, Allegan, MI ALLEGAN:  Allegan Lab School – ACATEC Center, Allegan, MI FENNVILLE: Fennville Elementary, Fennville, MI MARTIN:  Brandon Elementary, Martin, MI HOPKINS: Sycamore Elementary, Dorr, MI WAYLAND: Baker Elementary, Wayland, MI Home Based Program – services provided in your home throughout the county

Click for Location Maps

The History of the Head Start Program

Historical Video of the Head Start Program

Community Action of Allegan County, has had Head Start since 1966 and has served over 13,500 children and families in our Head Start program. The program originated under the Lyndon B. Johnson adminstration. “In January of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared The War on Poverty in his State of the Union speech. Shortly thereafter, Sargent Shriver took the lead inhead-start-program assembling a panel of experts to develop a comprehensive child development program that would help communities meet the needs of disadvantaged preschool children. Among these experts were Dr. Robert Cooke, a pediatrician at John Hopkins University, and Dr. Edward Zigler, a professor of psychology and director of the Child Study Center at Yale University. Part of the government’s thinking on poverty was influenced by new research on the effects of poverty, as well as on the impacts of education.

This research indicated an obligation to help disadvantaged groups, compensating for inequality in social or economic conditions. Head Start was designed to help break the cycle of poverty, providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs. A key tenet of the program established that it be culturally responsive to the communities served, and that the communities have an investment in its success through the contribution of volunteer hours and other donations as nonfederal share. In the summers of 1965 and 1966, the Office of Economic Opportunity launched an eight-week Project Head Start. In 1969, under the Nixon administration, Head Start was transferred from the Office of Economic Opportunity to the Office of Child Development in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Dr. Edward Zigler, who had served on the planning committee to launch Project Head Start, was appointed Director of the Office of Child Development. In 1977, under the Carter administration, Head Start began bilingual and bicultural programs in about 21 states. Seven years later, in October 1984 under the Reagan administration, Head Start’s grant budget exceeded $1 billion.

In September of 1995, under the Clinton administration, the first Early Head Start grants were given and in October of 1998, Head Start was reauthorized to expand to full-day and full-year services. Head Start was most recently reauthorized again in 2007, under the George W. Bush administration, with several provisions to strengthen Head Start quality. These include alignment of Head Start school readiness goals with state early learning standards, higher qualifications for the Head Start teaching workforce, State Advisory Councils on Early Care and Education in every state, and increased program monitoring, including a review of child outcomes and annual financial audits. The Head Start training and technical assistance system was redesigned to support programs through six National Centers and a state-based system to ensure success.

The statute also included a provision that regulations be promulgated to move programs from an indefinite project period to a five-year grant cycle. Programs would be required to demonstrate they are of high quality or a competitive grant opportunity would be made available within the community. In 2009, under the Obama administration, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act added more than 64,000 slots for Early Head Start and Head Start programs. Head Start has served more than 30 million children since 1965, growing from an eight-week demonstration project to include full day/year services and many program options. Currently, Head Start is administered by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the Department of Health and Human Services. Head Start serves over a million children and their families each year in urban and rural areas in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories, including American Indian, Alaskan Native and Migrant/Seasonal communities.” – Excerpt taken from ECLKC website.

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