Portland Public Schools Head Start serves over 850 low-income three and four year old children and their families. The goal of Head Start is to prepare young children for successful transitions to kindergarten and beyond by building social competence and developing school readiness skills. We will accomplish this by enhancing children's growth and development, both physically and emotionally.
Our program supports families in improving their quality of life. We offer them a sense of belonging, support services, and a chance to be involved in activities to help the whole family. Parents take part in training classes on subjects such as parenting, job skills, health and nutrition, and free community resources. We offer assistance to parents interested in obtaining a GED, learning to speak English, or read. Families receive help with special problems such as drug or alcohol abuse, job loss or other family crisis. We refer families for help with medical, social welfare, or employment. Our families have a voice in our program through various committees or on the Policy Council, our parent and community shared decision-making body.
The goal of Head Start is to bring about a greater degree of social competence in children, regardless of race, economic circumstances, language and geographic location by providing a comprehensive child development experience within the context of his/her family and community. Social competence embraces the child's intellectual, affective and physical development at home, in school, and in the neighborhood. Developmentally appropriate educational skills are those which are necessary for the later acquisition of skills and learning commonly recognized as reading, writing, mathematics, language, science, problem-solving and the development of positive attitudes toward learning.
The Head Start education classrooms are comprised of three and four year old students. They are staffed by classroom teachers including a certified teacher, and a full-time and a part-time assistant. Classroom support staff includes bilingual assistants, speech and early intervention specialists, family service staff, mental health consultants, and a registered nurse.
Head Start has long been an inclusionary placement for children with disabilities and special needs. Working together, teachers, support specialists and parents facilitate and maximize the child's full participation in classroom experiences and interactions. If you have a child with a disability or suspect your Head Start child may have needs for special services, you may request an evaluation. A child may be referred by calling Susan Fodell, Disabilities Manager at 503-916-6320 or in conjunction with the specialists and teacher in your child's classroom.
In order to be served by special education specialists every child must have an evaluation and be found to be eligible for services. The Oregon Department of Education has written rules that must be followed when determining a child to be eligible for services. This evaluation is completed in conjunction with parents, Head Start staff and staff from Portland Public Schools Early Childhood Assessment/Transition Team. The evaluation consists of various developmental assessment tools, and available medical records, interviews and observations.
Portland Public Schools is actively involved in community planning to encourage strong communication, cooperation, and the sharing of information among agencies and their community partners. Head Start works diligently to improve the delivery of community services to children and families.
Partnerships are established within our school district between programs such as curriculum and instruction, student services, early childhood education, transportation, nutrition services, special education, English as a Second Language, technology services. City-wide partnerships are numerous and include health, social service and early childhood education organizations, colleges and universities, ESD's, the Oregon Zoo and more.