Since 1972, Head Start has operated under the requirements of a Congressional mandate to make available, at a minimum, ten percent of its enrollment opportunities to children with disabilities. Head Start staff plays an important role in helping to identify children who may be in need of special services. Staff actively recruits families and offers enrollment opportunities for children with disabilities. The Program collaborates with other community agencies that assist children with disabilities to ensure that children are identified and provided a full range of services to meet individual needs. Head Start's philosophy of inclusion supports the rights of all children to be active participants in natural settings within their communities.
Children with Special Needs
All children enrolled in the Head Start / Early Head Start program will receive a developmental screening (Brigance) conducted by the classroom teacher within forty-five (45) days of the child’s enrollment date with parental consent.
The purpose of the Brigance developmental screening is to obtain a sampling of a child’s skills and behavior in order to identify the child who should be referred for more comprehensive evaluation. Further assessment will determine the existence of a delay or disability that may cause learning difficulties.
The Screening is designed to provide teachers with information about a range of child-skills. The skill areas include language, motor, numbers, body awareness, and visual discrimination. The child identified in the screening will be provided classroom intervention as appropriate and the teacher will monitor the progress.
When the decision is made to refer a child for further assessment whether it’s because of failed and/or previous services, the classroom teacher will conduct a pre-referral conference with the parent of the child and discuss the developmental screenings and assessments which indicated a concern. The Site Manager or the classroom teacher will forward the referral information with parental consent to the disabilities resource specialist, who will serve as an advocate for the family.
Early Head Start
Children ages ranging from birth to three years needing further assessment will be referred to Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS), Part-C for early intervention. If the assessment results in a developmental delay 25% or more in one area DDS, Part-C will arrange for the development of an individual family service plan (IFSP) to address the child’s individual and family needs.
Children three to five years of age with suspected disabilities are referred to Tri-District Early Childhood Program once parental consent has been obtained. Services will be provided to address developmental needs through the implementation of an Individual Educational Plan (IEP).