Early Head Start serves children birth to age 3 and pregnant women. Early Head Start is a year round service. The Early Head Start hours are from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Early Head Start Extended Day is available at our Lake City and Live Oak Early Head Start centers only. The extended day hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Slots are limited for extended day.

Head Start Services serves children age 3 to 5. Head Start is a 10-month program that closely follows local school calendars. The school day is from 8:00 a.m. to 2 p.m.

VPK (Voluntary Pre-K) is for children age 4 entering kindergarten. The Head Start/VPK day is from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. VPK is available at most of our Head Start centers

Summer Care is available at our Lake City Head Start center only. The day is from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Slots are limited for summer care.

Click on the Contact Us link on the left for center locations and contact information.

Early Childhood Development and School Readiness

Our Head Start  and Early Head Start programs are intended to meet the individual needs of each child. Every child receives a variety of learning experiences that enhance his/her cognitive, social, emotional & physical growth.

Classroom materials, activities and practices fulfill this design by:

  • Curricula that offer various experiences and is grounded in best early childhood practices and cultural variety.
  • Teaching techniques that allow for flexibility in the program day and to maximize children’s teachable moments.
  • Indoor and outdoor play.
  • Planned activities for all developmental areas and curriculum domains.
  • Encouraging children to express their feelings and negotiate conflict.
  • Inclusion of parents in curriculum planning and volunteer staffing to provide low child to staff ratios.
  • Implementing curriculum and transition activities that ensure maximum developmental continuity for the children.
  • Environments rich in language, literacy, math, and science.

Enhancing the classroom experience are home visits from teaching staff to every child’s family, a unique feature of Head Start. Head Start addresses the child within the context of the family and partners with the parent and the child’s first teacher in providing the child’s education.

Children are formally assessed three times during the program year for Head Start and four times for Early Head Start in all developmental areas. Ongoing assessment is completed for each child, and activities planned that will meet his/her individual goals. Results of these screenings and assessment are shared with and explained to parents on home visits and in parent conferences. Assessment data is analyzed each period to determine what areas need program improvement. Our program also offers an academic interventionist who works directly with four year old children advancing to kindergarten that need additional one-on-one or small group activities to enhance various learning areas.

VPK services are offered to all 4 year old children.

At least 10% of enrollment opportunities are available to children with disabilities or developmental delays. Head Start makes a special commitment to ensure that young children with disabilities are provided with an enriching and accepting learning environment.

Family and Community Partnerships

The Head Start program serves as a link between families and the community. The primary role of our family services department is to support families in their growth and development. Each family entered in the program is assigned a family support specialist.

We also partner with parents to:

  • Be their child’s first teacher.
  • Volunteer and observe in the classroom or in any aspect of the program
  • Receive training in parent education activities and programs which are planned with parent input
  • Achieve skills in decision making, group process, and leadership through participation in the governing of the program
  • Join parent committees and our policy council, where they have a voice in the programs administrative decisions

The importance of family literacy is stressed throughout the Head Start program. In the classroom, children are in print-rich environments and are encouraged in their language and literacy skills development. Parents are urged to improve their literacy skills, obtain adult basic education, and make their homes a place where reading is a part of everyday life. Parents are encouraged to observe and volunteer in classrooms and on field trips. Activities they can do with their children at home are provided and encouraged. We encourage father and male involvement in the children’s lives and in the program. Our families also gain the information and knowledge they need to make a smooth transition upon leaving the Head Start program and to be their children’s advocate in school and other settings. Children may visit kindergarten classrooms and parents learn about their rights and responsibilities.

Some of the community agencies and organizations we partner with to provide services include:

  • Community Colleges and Vo-techs
  • United Way
  • Local employers
  • Even Start and other family literacy programs
  • Health providers and resources
  • Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Gateway
  • Florida Department of Children and Families
  • Partnership for Strong Families
  • School System Drop Out Prevention Program
  • Mental Health Agencies

Health Services

Head Start recognizes that every child must be healthy and well nourished to learn and grow to his or her full potential. Preventative health services are central to Head Start’s comprehensive array of services. Early in their enrollment, families work with Head Start staff to ensure they have an ongoing accessible source of health care. Community partners help in this process. Head Start assists the family in making use of all available health resources and insurance.

Our program focuses on each child’s basic health needs as well as the healthy behaviors and practices that can prevent illness and enhance a child’s lifelong well-being. We recognize the importance of identifying and addressing health problems early in a child’s life so that they do not interfere with a child’s learning and development. Our program arranges comprehensive health care for every child. This includes a complete health examination with a screening for chronic or disabling conditions, a vision and hearing test, a dental examination, and ensuring immunizations are up-to-date. Follow-ups are scheduled for children with any indication of problems. During National Dental Health month (February), a special training is provided to the classrooms regarding proper oral health care and each child receives a dental care package.

Disabilities: Our disabilities coordinator works with local agencies to ensure enrolled children with diagnosed disabilities receive appropriate services.

Mental Health: We have a mental health professional that works with our program to help identify children’s mental health needs. We also focus on working with the family to help the parents improve their parenting skills.

Oral Health: Suwannee Valley 4Cs networks with local dental providers to assist in increasing dental care for our enrolled children and prenatal moms and to provide developmentally appropriate oral health education to our enrolled children, their families, our staff and the community.

Pregnancy: Services to pregnant women include comprehensive prenatal and postpartum health and dental care, prenatal education, and breast feeding education and accommodations.