Giving your children the best start in life is at the top of every parent’s list of priorities. Sometimes, the lack of resources in your area can create gaps in opportunities to give your children a desirable start in life.
But, there is one resource that parents can rely on to assist them in giving their children the best chance at proper development and experiencing total wellness. The Head Start program has helped many families throughout the country, with some of the most significant impacts being seen and experienced in the state of Georgia.
To grasp how essential the Head Start program is to low-income families and their children, it’s crucial to understand how the Head Start program works, who it aims to help, and how you can take advantage of all it has to offer.
Are you a Georgia resident who wants to learn more about the Head Start Program? Here are some vital things that you should know so that you can give your children the best start in life.
Short History of The Head Start Program
The complicated truth is that the best opportunities often come to those with the most resources in place. This can be particularly troubling for families with low incomes. As a result, impoverished children can be left behind. The Head Start program began in 1965 as an 8-week program to help tackle childhood poverty in the United States.
In the 57 years since its inception, Head Start has grown to serve more than 36 million American families each year, helping turn it into the essential service that it is today.
In Georgia, the Head Start program provides critical services to over 19,000 children as of 2022, including over 53,000 home visits and over 10,000 children receiving behavioral health services
What Does The Head Start Program Do For Georgians?
Many Georgians live below the poverty line, which can make it challenging to gain access to quality education, food, and childcare. Without these essential needs, it can make daily life a struggle for Georgia residents. But, the Head Start program helps to fight the issue by promoting school readiness through language, literacy, and social learning support programs for Georgians and their children.
Each year, head start helps Georgia residents in critical areas, such as
- Job training
- Home visits
- Behavioral health support
How Are Head Start Services Delivered?
Head Start is unique in its ability to connect families with the resources that they need. Services from the Head Start program come through schools, non-profit organizations, and other local means.
Head Start and School Readiness
One of Head Start’s main calling cards is preparing children for their formative school years. Head Start prepares young children for school by promoting social skills, math, science, and other essential dimensions of learning. Head Start also takes an active role in teaching cultural concepts to each family, ensuring each child understands their heritage as it relates to their situation.
Head Start and Health
Having access to quality healthcare can be challenging for families with limited incomes. The Head Start program aims to address this issue. The program helps parents get their children closer access to crucial healthcare screenings that they can miss without adequate healthcare. Another way the Head Start program helps families stay healthy is they partner with other organizations that can help with dental care, medical services, and mental health resources to ensure total wellness.
Eligibility Requirements For Head Start
Before applying for Head Start, understanding its eligibility requirements is crucial. The Head Start program is available for low-income children from birth to 5 years old. Your income level must fall below a particular threshold based on the federal guidelines for your household size.
For instance, your income cannot exceed $32,470 before taxes if you have a household with five family members. This number depends on how many people live with you, but contacting your local head start agency is your safest bet to ensure you meet the income requirements.
Others that are eligible to apply for the Head Start program include
- Children in foster care
- Homeless children
- Those who receive public assistance (TANF, SSI)
What is Early Head Start?
An additional branch of Head Start is the Early Head Start program. The Early Head Start program is for low-income families with infants and toddlers up to 3 years old. The program serves to help families take steps toward financial security, stable housing, and increasing access to education.
How Much Does Head Start Cost?
A common question is if there are any costs associated with Head Start. It can help you breathe a sigh of relief to learn that Head Start is a free program that you can utilize.
While the Head Start program doesn’t take money out of your wallet, another beneficial feature it provides is that some programs go the extra mile and offer counseling for financial literacy to help you make sound decisions with your money.
The state of Georgia has utilized over $261,000 in federal funding to support the Head Start Program, ensuring that critical assistance remains accessible for Georgians that need it.
Applying For Head Start In Georgia
The application process for Head Start in Georgia includes several steps. First, it’s essential that you verify your income falls within the mandated guidelines. If need be, you can access the income calculator on the state of Georgia’s website. Once you’ve verified your income level, then you must find a head start program in your area. You can do this by entering your city, state, or zip code in the search bar on the Early Learning and Knowledge Center’s Website.
It’s worth noting that each Head Start Center has different guidelines for applying, so be mindful of this as you begin your application or call the center directly to get all the details of their application processes. After you’ve verified your income level and the application guidelines, you can complete your application. If there is no room in the head start program at the time of your application, don’t worry, as you can be added to the waiting list for another time.
The Head Start program has made a difference in the lives of thousands of Georgians. The program helps open doors to learning opportunities for low-income families and helps them stay healthy by meeting vital nutrition and healthcare needs.
This resource continues to have immeasurable value and will continue to help many families for years to come.
Looking for additional single-mom help in Georgia? Check out our guide for Assistance and Grants for Single Moms in Georgia.