"2012 Frequently asked questions FINAL"
Maricopa County Head Start Zero to Five Program Frequently Asked Questions What kind of services does your program provide? How can I enroll my child in Head Start? Is My Child Eligible for Head Start or Early Head Start? How old does my child have to be to get into Head Start? Does my child has to be potty trained? Does Head Start accept children with disabilities or special needs? What are the income requirements? How do I know if my family qualifies? What is the definition of income? What are the Family Income Guidelines? What is the definition of a "family” or "household"? What if my income is higher than the poverty guidelines? What if we do not qualify? Where is the nearest Head Start classroom to my home? When does school start and end? What are the hours of the Head Start program? What are the hours of the Early Head Start program? If the child's biological parents are not in the household, what types of documents are required to enroll her/him in the Head Start program? I am a guardian of a child / foster parent. Can they attend Head Start? Will I need to turn in another application if my child is on the waitlist? I just moved to this state. Will someone help me connect to services available to my family? I've already applied, what next? When and how will I know my child has been selected? If my child is not selected at the beginning of the school year, does that mean they will not be selected for that school year? I've met with a FSS, when do I enroll my child? I've completed the enrollment packet when does my child start? Why does Head Start/Early Head Start require my child to have a dental and physical? Why does my child need a physical and dental to start? What materials/supplies does my child need to attend Head Start? Does my child need to bring his/her own lunch/snack? What kinds of food do you provide my child? What if my child has a special diet or my child is a picky eater? My child has a food allergy how does Maricopa County handle this? Can I visit my child's class? Why does it look like they are just playing when I go to visit? ERSEA PY 12-13 Page 1 of 13 Do you play with kids outside in the summer? How many teaching staff are in a classroom? Is my child going to learn to read in Head Start? What if my child still has potty accidents? How do you discipline? What if my child gets hurt while at Head Start? What if my child gets sick while in school? My child has medication that he needs every day…Can I give it to the teacher to give it to him? What happens if I get stuck in traffic or am late picking up my child? Can I volunteer in the classroom? Can we bring the younger siblings to the classroom while I volunteer in my child classroom? Why does my child's teacher need to visit my home and what are they looking for? How will my child(ren) learn to get along with other children when in the home Based Program? What do you do on a home visit? What do you do on a visit for an expectant mother? Why do I see busses in my neighborhood and I have to drive my child? Family Support FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions) What is Family Service Support (FSS) and who are the Family Service Support staff? Why Does Head Start Have Family Support Staff? What can I expect from my Family Support Staff? What can take place during a visit or the monthly phone call? Why all the questions? What is the Family Partnership Agreement? How often does the Family support staff meet with families? Why would I want to set goals? What if I need additional resources? What kind of services does your program provide? The program provides services to low-income children zero–five years of age as described below: Center-Based Program provides services in a classroom setting. Home-Based Program meets in the family’s home once a week for 1½ hours. Socialization for parent and child is held twice a month for 3½ hours at a classroom or designated location. Head Start socializations are conducted on Fridays. Early Head Start socialization sessions are conducted on designated days (ask your Home Visitor for the day of your socialization). Special Needs - Head Start enrolls children with disabilities and special health care needs in collaboration with school districts and other agencies. Ten percent of Head Start’s enrollment slots ERSEA PY 12-13 Page 2 of 13 must be filled with children with a disability certified by the School District or the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP). All disabilities services are provided by the school districts or by AzEIP. Children may receive these services in the school district classroom, the Head Start classroom, or in the child’s home. Bilingual Staff and volunteers offer guidance and support to children who do not speak English. Screenings - Developmental, behavioral, vision and hearing screenings are completed on all children within the first 45 days of entering the program. Nutrition screenings are also completed. How can I enroll my child in Head Start? There are several ways to submit an application for your child to enroll in Head Start. You may come to our main office at 2150 S Country Club drive, Mesa AZ, 85210 and complete an application. Or you may call our office at 480-464-9669 to request an appointment and we will arrange to meet you at a time that is best for you. Is My Child Eligible for Head Start or Early Head Start? Children ages three to four years old whose family income is at or below the Poverty Guidelines published by the federal government, are eligible for Head Start. Children ages Zero to 36 months whose family income is at or below the Poverty Guidelines published by the federal government, are eligible for Early Head Start. Pregnant Women may also be eligible for Early Head Start and Home Base. Eligibility for Head Start/Early Head Start includes: o Families whose income is at or below these guidelines o Families providing child’s proof of birth such (Birth Certificate, Passport, Live Birth Certificate (EHS), CPS paperwork) o Families providing Proof of Address of residency in East Maricopa County. o Families providing Child’s Immunization Record(recommended) Automatically eligible in HS/EHS includes: o Families who are receiving public assistance (TANF, SSI) o Families who do not have a fixed, regular or adequate nighttime residence, or families who share housing due to loss of housing due to economic hardship (HOMELESS) o Children in foster care, regardless of family income (FOSTER CHILDREN, usually zero income, we do not count family income) How old does my child have to be to get into Head Start? For Head Start, your child must be between 3 and 4 years of age. Not older than 5 yrs old by August 31, 2012. ERSEA PY 12-13 Page 3 of 13 Does my child has to be potty trained? No, Head Start does not require children to be potty trained for enrollment. Does Head Start accept children with disabilities or special needs? Ten percent of enrollment is offered to children with disabilities. We work with the local School System, mental health specialist and other resources to make sure the children get the services they need. What are the income requirements? How do I know if my family qualifies? Income requirements are set by the federal government and are changed each year. The best way to see if your family qualifies is to submit an application or call 480-464-9669 and speak to a Family Support Specialist. What is the definition of income? Income means gross cash income and include earned income, military income (including pay and allowances), veteran’s benefits, Social Security benefits, unemployment compensation, child support and public assistance benefits. What are the Family Income Guidelines? Children are eligible to participate in Head Start if they are from low-income families or if their families are eligible for public assistance. The Head Start Act establishes income eligibility for participation in Head Start programs based on the poverty guidelines updated annually in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. What is the definition of a "family” or "household"? • Family - The term “family” means all persons living the same household who are either a) supported by the income of the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the child enrolling in a Head Start program and b) related to the parent(s) or guardian(s) by blood, marriage, or adoption.. • Household - A household consists of all the persons who occupy a housing unit (house or apartment), whether they are related to each other or not. If a family and an unrelated individual, or two unrelated individuals, are living in the same housing unit, they would constitute two family units. What if my income is higher than the poverty guidelines? Children who come from families with slightly higher income may be able to participate in Head Start when space is available. Please visit us and we can discuss this with you. ERSEA PY 12-13 Page 4 of 13 What if we do not qualify? Families who may not meet income guidelines can call their local school district or we will provide you with resources to locate a preschool close to your residence. Where is the nearest Head Start classroom to my home? There are over 55 Head Start classrooms located around East Maricopa County. To find the nearest one to your home please call 480-464-9669. When does school start and end? In Head Start we normally start in August and end in May. In Early Head start classes are normally year around starting in July and ending in June. What are the hours of the Head Start program? Most of our classrooms have two sessions from which you can choose; am class which goes from 8-11:30 or pm class which goes from 12:30-4, both of these sessions are held Monday-Thursday. We do have a few classrooms that are single session and go from 8-1. For Home Base program a teacher meets with you at your house or at the location you prefer for 1.5 hours per week and Socializations twice at month per 3.5 hrs at a classroom or designed location. What are the hours of the Early Head Start program? EHS classrooms have a single session which goes from 7.30-2.30 pm class .These sessions are held Monday-Friday. For Home Base program a teacher meets with you at your house or at the location you prefer for 1.5 hours per week and Socializations twice at month per 3.5 hrs at a classroom or designed location. If the child's biological parents are not in the household, what types of documents are required to enroll her/him in the Head Start program? Power of Attorney document with the seal, adoption papers, custody or relevant documents stating that the child is temporarily in your care. I am a guardian of a child or foster parent. Can they attend Head Start? If you have a child who you have legal custody or guardianship of that child may be eligible to attend Head Start. If you have a foster child in your home they are automatically qualified and may attend Head Start. ERSEA PY 12-13 Page 5 of 13 Will I need to turn in another application if my child is on the waitlist? No, your child will remain on the waitlist for the current program year until a vacancy occurs in that center. If you move within our Service area, you will need to contact the family support specialist for that area to transfer your child's application to another center without reapplying. I just moved to this state. Will someone help me connect to services available to my family? Our staff will be able to assist you or a member of your family with accessing any community services you may need, such as assistance with housing, food, clothing, counseling, or health care assistance. Please do not hesitate to ask for assistance. I've already applied, what next? If you have already completed and submitted an application there is a process called Application Eligibility Review which determines if your family meets the Federal Income Guidelines and eligibility and age criteria for the program and you will be waitlisted for selection. When and how will I know my child has been selected? You will receive a phone call explaining if your child is selected or will remain on our waitlist. The selection process starts in July and continues thru the start of the school year in August. If my child is not selected at the beginning of the school year, does that mean they will not be selected for that school year? If your child is not selected at the beginning of the year, this does not mean they will not be selected for that school year. We select children all year long up until the last 60 days of the school year. I've met with a FSS, when do I enroll my child? An FSS will contact you to complete the enrollment packet for your child. Part of the enrollment packet will require getting a current physical, dental and immunization record for your child. I've completed the enrollment packet when does my child start? Once the packet is completed, you will be contacted by your child's teacher. ERSEA PY 12-13 Page 6 of 13 Why does Head Start/Early Head Start require my child to have a dental and physical? Assuring regular and complete health care for children is an important part of the Early Head Start/Head Start program. The health component of HS/EHS includes immunizations, physicals, dentals, hearing, vision, hemoglobin and blood lead screens. Head Start and Early Head Start want to ensure healthy development in all areas of your child’s growth. Why does my child need a physical and dental to start? Head Start is a family program that places high regard on health. Your child does not need a physical or dental to start in the classroom. It is a state licensing requirement that your child has annual physical and up to date shots. It is a Head Start requirement that your child visits the dentist. What materials/supplies does my child need to attend Head Start? Does my child need to bring his/her own lunch/snack? No. Head Start provides all learning materials and supplies. Children are provided lunch and breakfast daily at no expense to the parent. What kinds of food do you provide my child? Children have breakfast and lunch or lunch and a snack, which provides at least two-thirds of their daily nutritional needs. Meals are served family-style (children and adults sit at tables together) and are a special time for children and teachers. Children help with activities such as setting the table, passing food to others, and cleaning up. Children also have the opportunity to participate in monthly food experiences or activities. Young infants are fed on demand with the formula or breast milk prescribed by your physician. Provisions are made in our facilities for the storage of breast milk. Older infants and toddlers have breakfast, lunch, and a snack each day. What if my child has a special diet or my child is a picky eater? At Head Start we encourage "no thank you bites" of foods that are new to the children; we do not force children to eat. Accommodations will be met to service the needs of children with special dietary needs or allergies. My child has a food allergy how does Maricopa County handle this? The Head Start nutritionist will work with you to develop a Special Meal Request. ERSEA PY 12-13 Page 7 of 13 Can I visit my child's class? Absolutely! All Head Start classrooms have an open door policy that encourages you to visit your child any time you can without an advance phone call or invitation. If you have a half-hour or a whole day you come in and visit. Your child will feel so important and know that their school is important to you as well. Why does it look like they are just playing when I go to visit? When you see your child "just" playing you may not realize that they are learning - they may not realize they are learning! When your child is playing with play dough they are strengthening their hand muscles which will later help them to write words. While your child is playing in the dramatic play area they are learning how to be social, share and relate to their peer through problem solving skills. When your child is playing in the block area they are using imagination in comparing, measuring, and building to represent things they have seen. These are math skills. Your child IS learning through play. Do you play with kids outside in the summer? Classroom schedules limit outdoor time between 10:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M. due to the extreme sun damaging rays. Shade and water will be available for all children on the playground at all times. A sun safety checklist for clothing, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen and more detailed information is available for parents upon request. How many teaching staff are in a classroom? We have three (3) teaching staff in each classroom; two teachers and a teacher’s aide. Each classroom has staff members who are CPR, First Aid certified. Is my child going to learn to read in Head Start? Head Start students are learning pre-reading skills daily. Some children may be reading at the end of the year and some may not. It is not developmentally appropriate to expect a three-year-old to know how to read. Head Start emphasizes the importance of literacy experiences through-out the whole school year. What if my child still has potty accidents? Occasional potty accidents are developmentally appropriate for young children. The Head Start teaching staff will assist your child in getting cleaned up and changed. A change of clothing must be on-hand in the classroom for your child in case of spills or potty accidents. ERSEA PY 12-13 Page 8 of 13 How do you discipline? We believe that all children are entitled to respect and dignity. Preschool age children are beginning to learn about their emotions and the need to take responsibility for their actions. Through the use of problem solving, positive behavior support techniques, and individualization of expectations, all children can be successful in the classroom. The Mental Health Specialist provides regular visits to each classroom to consult with parents, consult with staff, and to provide observations and suggestions as needed to assist staff in promoting positive behavior outcomes for all children. What if my child gets hurt while at Head Start? When registering your child for Head Start you signed a "permission to treat" form that will allow us to take your child for emergency treatment if it becomes necessary. Minor injuries will be dealt with in class and you will receive an accident report from your child's teacher. In any situation involving a major injury you will be notified immediately and it will be covered by Insurance. This is an example of why your child's emergency information sheet needs to be correct and up to date at all times. What if my child gets sick while in school? If your child becomes ill at school we will contact you through the numbers you provided on your child's emergency sheet. If you are not available we will continue to call the other contact numbers you have provided until we find someone who can pick your child up from class. Please be sure to provide adequate emergency contact information to your child's teacher, this is crucial. My child has medication that he needs every day…Can I give it to the teacher to give it to him? Medication can be administered in the classroom when the medication schedule indicates a dose during class time and when it has been prescribed by a medical provider. The medication must be brought to school in the original labeled prescription container. A Medication Consent form and the medication log must be completed by the parent or guardian, as well as two Instructional Staff who have been trained by the parent on how to administer the medication. Children requiring medication for more than 30 days will require an Individual Health Plan (IHP) coordinated with the Health Coordinator. What happens if I get stuck in traffic or am late picking up my child? If a child has not been picked up after fifteen minutes of the end of class, the parent or one of the emergency contacts will be notified to pick up the child. A child left longer than one hour will be considered "abandoned" and Child Protective Services (CPS) may be notified (as appropriate, considering what is known about the family circumstances). Continuous late pick-ups may cause a child to be dropped from the program. ERSEA PY 12-13 Page 9 of 13 Can I volunteer in the classroom? Head Start encourages parent involvement. Research has proven that the more active parents are in their children’s education, the more successful children are in school. Furthermore, the more involved the parent is with the program, the more significant their Head Start experience is for them. Can we bring the younger siblings to the classroom while I volunteer in my child classroom? Parents may bring younger siblings to participate in the class when they volunteer in the classroom or field trips. The younger siblings: o Must be listed on the visitor’s log. o Must be current on their immunizations. o Must be able to follow classroom rules. o Must be watched and supervised by the parent at all times. o Must follow Head Start policies. Why does my child's teacher need to visit my home and what are they looking for? Head Start teachers visit your home to encourage a relationship between school and families. Research has shown that a positive relationship between teacher and families fosters your child's learning experience. We will answer questions you may have, discuss your child's development, help you with needed resources and leave you with a home activity. How will my child(ren) learn to get along with other children when in the home Based Program? A part of our Home Based program includes two monthly center based socialization days. These days provide a chance for parents to come together for training/education and for children to play and explore with other children. What do you do on a home visit? Home visits are scheduled weekly for 1 ½ hours. Part of the time focuses on parent child interactions and stages of your child’s development. The home base teacher works in partnership with the family to ensure you have what you need to move forward and be successful. This could include assisting with home safety checks, providing information on topics such as breast feeding, income or housing issues, education, and more. What do you do on a visit for an expectant mother? The home visitor assists a mother in understanding the different stages of development as well as prenatal care. In addition, Head Start also has a strong focus on health, safety and nutrition for the entire family. The home visitor will work with the family to ensure they have all the resources they need. ERSEA PY 12-13 Page 10 of 13 Why do I see busses in my neighborhood and I have to drive my child? Transportation services are not provided to Head Start or Early Head Start classrooms. While the program does not provide any transportation services, we can assist you in riding the public bus system or help find another parent who might be able to assist you. If no transportation assistance is available, we can enroll you in the home-based program. The program can assist home-based families who need transportation assistance to the socialization site. Family Support FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions) What is Family Service Support (FSS) and who are the Family Service Support staff? Family Services Support Head Start families and encourage success in achieving their goals. Family Support Staff assist and support families by providing resources and information for local resources. Family Support Staff work in partnership with the family and encourage them to set goals towards being self sufficient. Head Start strives to empower families towards greater confidence, self-reliance, and independence to seek out necessary resources, thus becoming their family’s own advocate. Why Does Head Start Have Family Support Staff? The Family Support Staff are assigned to each family to provide support and resources. Staff is available to assist families in a number of situations including setting goals. Goal can be big or small and are developed by the family to get them where they want to go. Goals can include; budgeting, repairing credit or setting up a bank account. They can also include things like education or finding or getting better employment, transportation or getting your license so you can stay in school or at work. What can I expect from my Family Support Staff? •The Family Support Staff are usually one of the first people you see from Head Start. They start out the year with your family and get to know who you are and how they might be able to help you. They also set up a time for your first Home Visit with your child’s teacher. •Head Start recommends that all families participate in the family partnership process. Family Support Staff will set up a time with you in September or October to do the Family Partnership Agreement. •Family Support Staff are recommended to make monthly phone calls to each family to review goals and see if there are any changes in your family situation and to see if there is any way they can help out. •They may call if your child is absent to see how they can help. •The Family Support Staff also have a section in your monthly classroom newsletter. ERSEA PY 12-13 Page 11 of 13 What can take place during a visit or the monthly phone call? A visit can take place at your child’s center, at your home, or at a neutral location. During the visit, your Family Support Staff can assist you with setting goals for your family and provide you with resources to help you accomplish your goals. If you have requested information from them they and will make sure you received what you needed and were happy with the services provided. Any concerns or questions may be addressed at this time. Why all the questions? It is part of the family support staff job to help your family find target areas to help get you on your way to self sufficiency. In order to do this they need to know about your income and living situation. Any information you share with them is confidential and they respect your privacy. If you are not comfortable sharing something with them please just tell them you do not want to discuss that issue. The information is also used to monitor how the program is doing in assisting families we serve and how we can improve. What is the Family Partnership Agreement? The Family Partnership Agreement is a tool that families and Head Start staff use to help families to be working towards self sufficiency. Families and Head Start staff work together to set family goals and make plans to reach those goals. How often does the Family support staff meet with families? At the beginning of the year the Family Support Staff meet with families at least twice to get all of the paperwork done and get to know the family. After the first two home visits they meet with families as often as the family wants them to. This could be once a week, twice a month or every other month. It all depends on the families needs. We want to work hard with people who are motivated to get ahead in life and get their families out of poverty. Family Support Staff are required to do at least three Home Visits with each family throughout the year. Why would I want to set goals? Goals give us direction to see our way out of poverty. We have found that families who set goals with the Family Support Staff and have some additional support have a better chance of achieving those goals. Family Support Staff act as a cheerleader for your family and celebrate your successes as you achieve them. ERSEA PY 12-13 Page 12 of 13 What if I need additional resources? If you need additional resources, you may contact your Family Support Staff at any time. They have resources available on a variety of topics, including but not limited to: budgeting, credit card debit reduction, taxes, basic needs, health & safety, education/employment, parenting, child development, family concerns, individual adult needs, pregnancy/infant care. ERSEA PY 12-13 Page 13 of 13