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Children and Family Services Capital Area Head Start
Who We Are
We provide a comprehensive child development program designed to give children a head start in life, so they can succeed at home, school and in the community.
Capital Area Head Start gives children a head start in life, empowers parents and strengthens families. CAHS began providing Head Start services to children and families in Dauphin, Cumberland and Perry Counties in 1988, when Keystone Children & Family Services received a grant for the program. In 2001, we added Early Head Start services to serve pregnant women and children from birth to three.
Head Start is a comprehensive, federally-funded child development program and serves over 900 families in the tri-county area. Children may enter the Head Start program up to two years before entering public school. Through our Early Head Start program, we provide services for children ages birth to three and women who are pregnant.
We provide Head Start services based on three program models:
- Part-day school year
- Pre-K Counts
- Home-based programs
In our part-day school year program, children attend school for three and a half hours, four days a week. In Pre-K Counts, children attend classes for five hours, five days a week during the school year. For children and families in our home-based programs, home visitors visit families for one and a half hours three times per month. This model includes a part-day classroom experience each week. Early Head Start families receive weekly visits and two family days each month.
Children in all programs receive comprehensive services, including educational, medical, dental, nutritional and family social services. For specific age qualifications for each of our programs, please contact our main office at 717-541-1795.
In keeping with Keystone Children & Family Services' tradition of involving parents in services provided for their children, CAHS emphasizes parent involvement and participation in all areas of their child's development. The Head Start Policy Council, a group of parents of children enrolled in Head Start services, is one of the principal governing bodies for CAHS.
Preschool not only prepares children for kindergarten, but also sets them up for success later on in their academic careers. Capital Area Head Start began operating Pre-K Counts on July 1, 2011 for the Harrisburg School District, with preschool classrooms at Ben Franklin, Melrose, Downey, Camp Curtin and Scott schools.
Children attend preschool during the school year from August to June, five days per week for five hours each day. All of our Pre-K Counts teachers have a Pennsylvania teaching certificate in early childhood education, and class sizes are small, with a maximum of sixteen children, so each child receives the attention he or she needs to be successful. In addition to math, language and literacy, children learn important social and emotional skills to help them be successful once they transition to kindergarten.
In January, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning completed an audit of the Pre-K Counts program. Over several days, a program specialist reviewed documents, observed classrooms and spoke with our staff. The audit included a variety of criteria, such as regulatory requirements, fiscal responsibilities, enrollment and attendance, screening and assessment, professional development and classroom design. We are happy to report that we received a perfect score for our first full year of operation!
Enrollment for the 2012-2013 school year is now open. Give your child a head start and call us today at 717-541-1795 to apply.
Early Head Start
In 2002, we began providing Early Head Start services. Through home-based and center-based programming, CAHS provides comprehensive child and family development services for low-income pregnant women and families with infants and toddlers ages birth to three years. Early Head Start programs provide early, continuous, intensive and comprehensive child development and family support services all year round. The program enhances children's physical, social, emotional and intellectual development, supports parents' efforts to fulfill their parental role and helps parents become more self-sufficient.
Celebrating Our Successes One Family at a Time
One of the families in our Early Head Start program moved here from Egypt less than a year ago. Since the CAHS home visitor began working with them, both parents have found jobs and began ESL classes. The home visitor has also helped them apply to the Childcare Network for a subsidy to help with child care costs.
A teenage mother and her two-year-old daughter called CAHS and asked the home visitor for advice because her daughter would not stop pestering their kitten. After listening to the advice of the home visitor, the mother was able to model the appropriate way to pet the kitten and redirect her daughter to do the desired behavior. With more support and encouragement from the home visitor, this teenage mother has applied to the local community college.
With the support of her home visitor, a young mother with four-year-old twins and an 11-month-old child has found employment and is receiving funding from the Childcare Network. When this family started in the Early Head Start program, the baby, who was premature and has developmental concerns, spent most of her time in a bouncy seat. The mother said that she did not realize how much learning occurs at this early age and how much young children can understand and absorb. With the advice of her home visitor, the mother has spent more time talking and reading with her baby, and she began giving her child "tummy time," floor time on her stomach to strengthen her muscles. Today, the baby is not only sitting up, but is also pulling herself up and beginning to crawl! The mother recently watched a show about the importance of quality early childhood education, and she said that Early Head Start "is a good program. I hope they don't mess with it!"