Head Start Services

Clayton school programs and services are funded by several sources including Head Start and Early Head Start. Each year, we provide exemplary Head Start and Early Head Start comprehensive services to more than 400 eligible low-income children and their families.

Established in 1965, Head Start promotes school readiness for preschool children and their families whose opportunities have been limited due to their socio-economic status. We actively partner with parents as their children’s first teachers to help children succeed in school and life. Children develop within the context of the whole family, so we also support parents in making progress toward their educational, literacy and employment goals. Involving parents in the planning and administration of our program is a core value.

With the launch of Early Head Start in 1995, children prenatal through age 3 and their families are also eligible to receive services. Early Head Start objectives are to enhance children's physical, social, emotional and intellectual development; assist pregnant women to access comprehensive prenatal and postpartum care; support parents' efforts to fulfill their parental roles; and help parents move toward self-sufficiency.

Together Head Start and Early Head Start have served tens of millions of children and their families across the nation.

Eligibility Criteria

Pregnant women and children from birth to 3 years of age are eligible for Early Head Start services. Children who are 3 to 5 years old are eligible for Head Start services. Families may be eligible for services if they are determined by program staff to be at or below the federal poverty level. Children and families who are homeless, in foster care, or receive TANF or SSI are also eligible for services.

Family-Centered Services

Head Start offers parents opportunities and support for growth through the development of family partnership agreements. Through this process parents identify and meet their own goals, nurture the development of their children in the context of their family and culture, and advocate for communities that are supportive of children and families of all cultures. The building of trusting, collaborative relationships between parents and staff allows them to share with and to learn from one another. Referral services aim to keep families healthy and intact through access to a broad range of preventive and intervention services delivered with flexibility, personalized attention and cultural sensitivity. All family-centered services work toward the goal of strengthening families to ensure the well-being and healthy development of the next generation.

Child Health and Development

Head Start’s commitment to wellness embraces a comprehensive vision of health for children, families and staff. The objective of Child Health and Development Services is to ensure that, through collaboration among families, staff and health professionals, all child health and developmental concerns are identified, and children and families are linked to an ongoing source of continuous, accessible care to meet their basic health needs.

Physical Health

Preventive health care is vital to a child’s overall growth and development. Our health services include an emphasis on physical and dental health, and personal safety. The health team works with staff to support children in receiving the necessary preventive care services, well-child checks, immunizations and dental screenings to promote overall healthy growth and development, and tracks services provided.

Social/Emotional

We believe the relationship between parent and child is foundational to children's lifelong learning, and physical and social/emotional well-being. Social supports and additional resources are always available when parents need help. Our Family Liaison Specialist and mental health clinicians assist in developing strategies that support the parent/child relationship both in the classroom and at home.

Nutrition

Regular nutrition screenings support the development of healthy eating habits for families. A Registered Dietician is available onsite to answer questions and provide consultations. All meals and snacks at Clayton are served “family style” to enhance children’s development of self-help and social skills.

Early Intervention

Clayton provides an individualized approach to child development that supports the inclusion of all children with the flexibility to make special adaptations based on needs. Developmental screenings and assessments assist families and staff in setting goals for children. Early Head Start and Head Start children receive services including screening and identifying special needs, referrals for evaluation and support in arranging any additional services that may be needed. Parents work with an interdisciplinary team including the Health and Nutrition staff, Family Liaison Specialist or the Speech and Language Specialist. By enrolling children with special needs, Clayton provides an enriching experience for all children and staff. A minimum of 10 percent of our total Head Start and Early Head Start enrollment is available to children with disabilities.