4,000 young children and their families participating in Head Start programs are celebrated.
AWARE will join other providers in celebrating Montana Head Start week October 10-14. This week recognizes and celebrates the children’s families and the programs that promote strong early learning and the whole child. Montana Head Start and Early Head Start programs serve more than 4,000 pregnant women and children zero to five throughout the state. Each of the twenty-two programs provide locally tailored learning in thirty-six counties and through six Tribal programs.
Head Start programs meet local needs through classes, home based learning and by partnering with families and communities to ensure that each child has the best start in life. In 2021, 309 classrooms provided preschool age and infants and toddlers with on-site early learning. Home based services send Head Start staff to homes to provide early learning opportunities and training for families. Child care partnerships are private providers partnering with Early Head Start programs to provide families with additional child care.
Head Start is the overall name of this comprehensive approach to early learning. Individual Head Start programs serve children three to five and provide a strong foundation for success in school and life. Early Head Start programs serve pregnant women and children ages zero to three, emphasizing developmentally appropriate support for social and educational skills during the most active period of brain development in a person’s life.
“Head Start children have a higher likelihood of graduating high school, attending college, and receiving a postsecondary degree, license or certificate.” (Bauer et al, 2016) Head Start was founded in 1965 and conducts long-term research that identifies successes and to refine best practices.
Programs strive to serve Montana’s more vulnerable children. 11% of enrolled children in 2021 had a disability, 10% experienced homelessness, and 9% were in foster care. Children experiencing economic insecurity are the largest portion of the program, with 90% experiencing poverty or are in families struggling economically.
Comprehensive services include education, health services, family involvement and wraparound support. In 2021, 1,959 preventative dental care services and 692 mental health services were completed with assistance from Head Start. 1,986 families received immediate services for food, clothing or shelter and 605 families received assistance in enrolling into an education or job training program.
AWARE offers Early Head Start in Belgrade, Billings, Butte and Helena. To learn more or to apply, please visit www.Aware-inc.org/ecs or call 406.563.8117.