The first Head Start Program was begun on the Flathead Reservation in 1965 as a summer program. Throughout the years the Head Start Program has expanded into five communities offering services to children in Polson, Ronan, St. Ignatius, Dixon and Arlee. Children from Elmo and Pablo communities are transported to Polson and Ronan respectively for pre-school services.
The Flathead Head Start Program is funded by the American Indian Programs Branch of the Head Start Bureau. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, who is the grantee agency for the Head Start Program, also contributes generously to the operation of Head Start.
Head Start is a child development program for children, primarily from low income families. A percentage of over-income and a percentage of children with disabilities are also enrolled.
Child Development Associate Program was started in 1972 in response to the growing need to upgrade the quality of staff caring for Head Start children. Currently, Nine staff members have attained their CDA. Teaching staff also have a Class C Type II Commercial drivers license. All Head Start staff receive CPR and First Aid training on a yearly basis.
The five (5)major components of Head Start are Education, Health, Nutrition, Parent Involvement, and Social Services.
EDUCATION: Head Start's educational program is designed to meet each child's individual needs. It also aims to meet the needs of the community it serves and the communities cultural characteristics. Every child receives a variety of learning experiences to foster intellectual, physical, social and emotional growth.
Children participate in a variety of activities that include a scheduled outdoor time for learning and gross motor fun. Children are involved in a cooking activity on a weekly basis. This occurs during small group time. Children are encouraged to talk about their feelings, to learn about themselves and others.
They develop confidence and improve skills while interacting with their peers. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Head Start curriculum is based on self concept with the knowledge that a child who feels good and is confident will then succeed, grow and learn.
At Head Start we emphasize the importance of early identification and treatment of health problems. Through the cooperative efforts of parents, staff, and health providers, each child receives the following:
1) Physical Examination - including immunization update and hematocrit or hemoglobin.
2) Vision Screening
3) Hearing Screening
4) Dental Examination
5) Nutrition Services
In addition, each child is weighed and measured three times during the school year. Mental health services are also available to children. Referrals for further evaluation and/or treatment of health problems are made as needed, and follow-up services are provided.
NUTRITION: Head Start children are served either breakfast and lunch or lunch and a snack depending on class schedule. Teacher Cooks prepare nutritious meals regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture Child and Adult Care Food Program. Nutrition safety and hygiene are main concerns for a healthy happy classroom.
PARENT INVOLVEMENT: Parents are the most important influence on a child's development and are an essential part of the Head Start program. Parents may also be involved in decision making, planning and program operations. Parents participate in many activities throughout the Head Start year. They volunteer in the classroom, and are also involved in social occasions, projects, meetings and educational classes.
Native parents and grandparents can lend their knowledge and expertise to assist the teaching staff with cultural activities, study trips, and classroom activities. The Salish and Kootenai culture is an part of the Head Start experience.
SOCIAL SERVICES: The main objectives are to be an advocate and spokesman for Head Start families and to identify the social service needs of Head Start families while working with other agencies to meet those needs. Our Head Start team works together to provide these services to families.