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Children's Education
Early Head Start
For low-income families, Early Head Start provides intellectual, emotional and social activities for children 6 weeks to 3 years old. Nurturing and well-trained caregivers support the infants and toddlers in daily routines, such as eating, sleeping, diapering/toileting, and dressing. Classroom routines and educational activities are based on the children’s ages and stages of development. There is 1 staff person for every 4 infants/toddlers. Early Head Start services are provided at select Head Start sites as well as in the homes of licensed caregivers (in Family Child Care Homes).

Head Start
For low-income families, Head Start provides full-day/full-year care and education to prepare children for school. Classrooms have 1 teacher for every 10 children. Staff evaluate to determine the each child’s development, and perform ongoing assessment to monitor each child’s progress. Children participate in indoor and outdoor play and enjoy a variety of learning experiences that foster intellectual, physical, social and emotional growth appropriate to their age and stage of development.

Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) Program
VPK is a program required by the government and designed to prepare four-year-olds in Florida for kindergarten. VPK gives each child an opportunity to perform better in school and throughout life with quality programs that include high literacy standards, accountability, appropriate lessons, substantial instruction periods, manageable class sizes, and qualified instructors. Staff must meet stringent requirements, including Level 2 FBI background checks. Every Florida resident with a child who turns 4 by September 1 is eligible for Florida’s free VPK program. Once a child is eligible to enter kindergarten, they are no longer eligible to participate in VPK. Contact the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County at (813) 740-4713.

Sustainable Gardens Innovation Project
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services granted Hillsborough County Head Start/Early Head Start $645,000 to have its children help create sustainable gardens at the head start centers. This will increase children’s experience with science and math by expanding their knowledge of growth, measurement and sorting. The sustainable gardens will feature local plants, herbs and seasonal vegetables to interest children in learning about the wonders of the natural world. Children will observe the impact their plantings have on soil, learn how to build an irrigation system, and understand water conservation. As an added bonus, the sustainable gardens make natural play spaces at the centers, providing for children’s creative exploration and motor development.

The Federal Administration for Children and Families’ last three-year review in January, 2010 identified this project as strength of Hillsborough County’s Head Start/Early Head Start of program.

Addressing Disabilities and Special Needs
Head Start/Early Head Start assists children with all types of disabilities including but not limited to those with developmental, hearing, language, and visual disabilities as well as emotional, medical, mental, and social needs. Enrolled children with special needs are provided with Individualized Education Plans (IEP) and/or Individual Family Support Plans (IFSP). Children with special needs are given the same opportunities to participate in the classroom as other children and if necessary, modifications may be made to make their experience a fun filled learning one. The Special Needs Advisory Committee meets quarterly to guide these efforts.

Contact Information

For more information about these programs, contact Hillsborough County Head Start at 813-272-5140