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What is Head Start and Early Head Start?

Northwest Arkansas Head Start and Early Head Start is a non-profit pre-school program, serving 322 children in Head Start and 48 children in Early Head Start and their families. We provide services to the tri-county area in Benton, Carroll and Madison Counties. There are 7 local sites; Bentonville, Centerton, Gentry, Green Forest, Huntsville, Rogers Hallie Martin, and Rogers Arkansas Street. With the 7 centers there are a total of 23 classrooms. Head Start and Ealry Head Start is a commitment to America’s children.

Northwest Arkansas Head Start Human Services Inc. (NWAHSHS) is a comprehensive development program (see below) designed to meet the needs of children and their families from at risk households. Our program builds on the strengths of children and parents, identifies areas that need improvement, and provides an opportunity for all family members to overcome the challenges that repress them. The overall goal of our program is to bring about a greater degree of social competence to disadvantaged children by meeting their educational needs and providing for their social, physical, psychological, health and nutritional needs. 

Head Start provides at-risk children the right foundation to build on for years to come. In Head Start, we try not only to cultivate abilities, but to spark interest and passion in learning. That way when children start elementary school they aren’t one step behind, they are prepared, ready and starting on the right path. Our success means that today’s Head Start graduates will be tomorrow’s high school and college graduates. It means also that their families find support and education in our programs. We can never forget that our goal is not just to prepare children for kindergarten, but also to help those children and their families to be successful in life. This nation was built on the belief that we all- regardless of our circumstances at birth – at least deserve the chance to have a better future. And in Head Start, we recognize that parents are their children’s first and most influential teachers. Head Start’s success is based upon the creation of compassionate partnerships between Head Start staff and parents on behalf of their children. We work with families to remove barriers to their success and to deepen their ability to support their children.

By providing quality services to our children and families to help them reach their full potential, NWAHSHS enhances the opportunities and services provided in our community. Our agency’s philosophy is reflective of our mission statement, “Head Start and Early Head Start enables children and their families to realize the opportunities for developing their full potential.”

To aid families in successfully establishing and meeting their goals, Northwest Arkansas Head Start has divided the program into eight “component areas”: Education, Health, Disabilities/Special Needs, Parent/Community Involvement, Social Services, Mental Health, Nutrition and Early Literacy.

In EDUCATION services, Head Start and Early Head Start provides children with a learning environment and varied experiences which will help them develop socially, intellectually, physically and emotionally in a manner appropriate to their age and stage of development through center based activities. By doing so this prepares the children for Kindergarten the next school year or for our Head Start program.  

A child that is sick, hungry or has dental problems cannot function properly in school. The Head Start and Early Head Start Health services ensures that children receive physical and dental examinations/follow-up and one half (1/2) to two thirds (2/3) of their minimum daily nutritional requirements.

The MENTAL HEALTH services is primarily preventive mental health which is done by creating an environment that will allow a child to develop a good positive self concept. Another aspect of the mental health component is early screening, diagnosis and treatment of children with special needs. Parent counseling, parent and staff training are also a part of the component.

DISABILITY SERVICES that include screening, diagnosis, treatment, specialized equipment and individualized lesson plans are provided for all disabled children enrolled in the program.

Since the welfare and development of children cannot be separated from the family circumstances, through FAMILY SERVICES families are helped to build their strengths so these strengths can be focused on areas of need. Special emphasis is also placed within this component on the integration of the program, community and families to develop a sense of interdependence, mutual respect and support.

The VOLUNTEER services is an integral part of the Head Start and Early Head Start program. Volunteers give their services in many ways by serving at the center as a kitchen aide, office assistant, playground aide, classroom aide, etc.

The OVERALL GOAL of Head Start and Early Head Start is to BRING ABOUT A GREATER DEGREE OF SOCIAL COMPETENCE in disadvantaged children by providing not only for their educational needs but, also for their social, physical, psychological, health and nutritional needs.

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