Services We Offer
MountainHeart Community Services operates a Head Start and an Early Head Start Program in Wyoming County, West Virginia. While both programs focus on the whole child philosophy of child development, the Head Start program serves children ages three to five while the Early Head Start program serves pregnant moms and children from birth to three years of age. All areas of the child’s development are important for a child to succeed in school and in life. Parents are considered the first and most important teacher of their child.
Early Childhood Development and Health Services
With individualization as the focus of these services, a variety of screening methods are used to determine each child’s current level of development. Using the Creative Curriculum, activities are planned to enhance the child’s development and prepare the pre-schooler for kindergarten. Over 50% of the teachers in the Head Start program and the Early Head Start program have a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. The remaining have an associate’s degree in this field and are enrolled in college courses in pursuit of the bachelor’s degree. Parents have input into the curriculum through home visits, volunteering in the classroom and by serving on advisory committees.
Health and Safety
The program contracts each year with local pediatric providers and dentists to assure all children enrolled have received the appropriate immunizations, well baby checks, annual health and dental examinations and prenatal checkups for pregnant moms enrolled in the program. The children and staff brush their teeth after each meal. Sensory (hearing and vision) screenings are also completed on all children enrolled to detect any concerns in these areas. Safety is our top priority. Various procedures are put in place to assure the child’s safety at all times. Classrooms, playgrounds and buses are inspected daily for any safety hazards and monitored routinely by the program, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Child Care Licensing Division and the West Virginia State Fire Marshall’s office. These inspection reports are posted in each site.
Nutrition Activities are a vital part of the quality services provided by the Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Menus are planned to avoid sugar and starch and to be appealing to children. Meals are cut into portions ensuring that each child is served the required portion of each meal component. A dietician is contracted for reviewing menus and planning activities as well as providing nutrition training for staff and parents. Each child’s height and weight is analyzed to determine if the child is on target for his/her development and individualized nutrition plans are developed when needed.
All children receive a social/emotional screening jointly completed by the teacher and the family. On-site mental health consultations are scheduled throughout the year to provide an opportunity to discuss any issues present in the classroom or in the home and to provide strategies, information and resources for families.
Family and Community Partnerships
Parents are involved in every aspect of the Head Start and Early Head Start program. Parents volunteer in the classroom and participate in monthly parent meetings and/or trainings. Parents also have an active role on the governing body of the program: The Policy Council. Parents of children currently enrolled in the Head Start and Early Head Start program make up at least 51% of the membership of the Policy Council. Family partnership agreements are developed with each family allowing the family to assess their own needs and establish goals for the child and the family. Formal and informal partnership agreements exist with other agencies serving children and families so that the appropriate linkages can be made allowing families to received the highest quality of services possible.
Program Design and Management
An effective ongoing monitoring system has been developed and implemented. Shared governance is a priority of the program with active participation of the members of the Policy Council and Board of Directors. The Management Team works closely with the Region III Head Start and Early Head Start Technical Assistance Team in implementing a structured and effective system of program planning.
Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms are considered a least restrictive environment and a natural setting when serving children with disabilities. Through an agreement with the Local Education Agency, children will receive specialized services as designated in an individualized education plan. All classrooms meet the requirements for individuals with disabilities as set forth in legislation.