Preschool & Head Start

The Role of Volunteers and Community Organizations

Volunteers are an important part of all Head Start programs. High school and college students, homemakers, parents of Head Start children, retired senior citizens -- all kinds of people -- have offered critical help to local Head Start programs. Volunteers assist with: indoor creative play; transportation; parent education; renovation of centers; and recruiting and instructing other volunteers. Approximately 1,157,000 individuals volunteer, and community organizations provide a wide array of services to Head Start, including the donation of classroom space, educational materials, and equipment for children with disabilities.





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Staff Development and Training

Head Start provides training to staff at all levels and in all program areas. The Child Development Associate (CDA) program gives professional and non-professional employees the opportunity to pursue academic degrees or certification in early childhood education. Currently, there are over 55,000 CDA's in the U.S. who have earned a CDA credential, including a number with a bilingual specialization.

In addition to bus procurement, expansion of Head Start centers and new staff hires, a main stipulation of funds tied to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for the federal Head Start program was to enhance training.

The Administration for Children & Families also houses the Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center, which offers various training information and professional development resources for Head Start and Early Head Start transporters.






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Head Start Funding

Grants for Head Start programs are awarded to local public or private non-profit agencies by the 10 ACF Regional Offices and the Head Start Bureau's American Indian and Migrant Programs Branches. Twenty percent of the cost of a Head Start program must be contributed by the community. Head Start programs operate in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories.

Most of the Head Start program's appropriation funds local Head Start projects. The remainder is used for training and technical assistance to assist local projects in meeting Head Start Program Performance Standards, maintaining and improving the quality of local programs; research, demonstration, and evaluation activities to test innovative program models and to assess program effectiveness; and required monitoring activities.


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Early Head Start (EHS) requires inclusion of children with disabilities. The Head Start Program Performance Standards require that at least 10 percent of the total number of enrollment opportunities be made available to children with disabilities. Children with disabilities are defined as those children who are eligible for services under State regulations governing Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA is a Federal law that is implemented at the State and local levels to provide screening, assessment, and, for eligible children, early intervention services based on Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSP).

More information on the link between Head Start and transporting students with disabilities can be found in our Special Needs section.




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