What We Do at Head Start

  • A Comprehensive Child Development Program 

    Head Start programs promote school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families. Head Start engages parents in their children's learning and helps parents in making progress toward their educational, literacy and employment goals.

    The Impact of Head Start

    Head Start has played a major role in focusing the attention of the Nation on the importance of early childhood development, especially in the first five years of life. In many ways, the program has had a dramatic impact on child development and day care services; on the expansion of State and local activities for children; on the range and quality of services offered to young children and their families; and on the design of training program for those who staff such programs.

    The program has led in efforts to improve the cognitive abilities of young children. Studies have indicated that Head Start children score higher than comparable non-Head Start children in preschool achievements tests that measure these abilities. The studies also show that Head Start children perform equal to or better than their peers when they enter regular school, and there are fewer grade retentions and special class placements.

    The outreach and training efforts of Head start programs have helped provide low-income parents with the knowledge and service they need to build a better life for their children. Direct involvement of parents in Head Start planning and policy-making has given families an active role in their child's education in how those services are provided. This participation has influenced school systems across the county to do likewise.

    Head Start has had a special impact on community efforts for low-income families. A study of 58 communities with full-year Head Start programs showed that the programs had influenced local educational and health institutions to become more responsive to the needs of low-income families. As a result of Head Start activities, for the first time many school districts revised curricula to place more emphasis on the needs of minorities; health institutions changed services and schedules to serve the low-income more effectively; there was increased participation by low-income individuals in policy-making decisions; and employment of local people in para-professional jobs was stepped up. All of these are major Head Start goals.

    Features of the Program


    Head Start's educational program is designed to meet each child's individual needs. It also aims to meet the need of the community served and its ethnic and cultural characteristics. If programs have a majority of bilingual children, for example, at least on teacher or aide must speak their native language.

    Every child receives a variety of learning experiences to foster intellectual, social, and emotional growth. Children participate in indoor and outdoor play and are introduced to the concepts of words and numbers. They are encouraged to express their feelings and to develop self-confidence and the ability to get along with others.

    Teaching staff are required to have teaching credentials at or above a Bachelor's Degree. Teaching staff are also required to have 15 hours annually of professional training that links directly to classroom work.


    Medical and Dental

    Establishing medical and dental homes is a priority for Geneva City School District Head Start of Ontario County (GCSDHSOC). On site dental prevention service is provided for all Head Start children. Children also receive hearing, vision and nutrition screenings with appropriate referrals and resources offered to families when needed.


    Meal time is an extension of learning by modeling language, conversation, social interaction and introducing new foods.  The menu integrates the latest nutritional research so families are offered the healthiest meals possible. GCSDHSOC works with all families to ensure that their cultural needs are valued and special diets are accommodated for.

    Mental Health

    A mental health professional is available to every Head Start program to provide mental health services for children and families. Ongoing training and support ensures that GCSDHSOC provides high quality classroom environments that foster success, safety and wellness for each child.

    Parent Involvement

    Participation in Decision Making

    Parents are the most important influence on a child's development. An essential part of our program is the involvement of parents in program planning and operating activities. Many serve as members of Policy Councils and Committees and have a voice in program design.


    Parents also volunteer in classrooms, the playground, field trips, meal times and more. Parents receive preference for employment in Head Start for jobs they qualify for.

    Classes & Workshops

    Through participation in classes and workshops on child development and through staff visits to the home, parents learn about the needs of their children and about educational activities that can be carried out at home.

    Family Services

    Respect for the uniqueness of each family drives the work of family service staff as it builds relationship with families and works on parent-generated goals. Family service staff provide resources and referrals, crisis intervention, opportunities for community involvement and support to develop literacy, leadership and employment skills.

    Head Start of Ontario County

    Geneva City School District Head Start of Ontario County is a non-profit organization serving 1,050 age and income eligible children and families as the Head Start grantee in Ontario County, New York. Services are offered in:

    • Head Start Part Day
    • Head Start Full Day

    Services are provided in a family friendly way. Decisions are made at the lowest levels and parents have a primary contact person to build relations and strong partnerships.

    Head Start

    If you have a child that is 3 or 4 years of age by Sept. one of the current enrollment year you may qualify for either our part-day or full-day program. The focus is on kindergarten readiness, wellness, and social and emotional development. 

    Head Start Full Day

    Classes are five days a week in a Head Start classroom. 

    Meal Services

    GCSD Head Start of Ontario County meals are provided through the school district or on site cooks for rural areas.


    Head Start's Policy Council, a parent decision-making body helps plan and develop goals for the program, approve various policies, hiring, budgets and work plans.

    We also have a diverse Board of Directors. Fifteen members are active in the strategic direction of Head Start with a focus of serving all age, income eligible children in Ontario County.

    Children with Disabilities

    Head Start provides special education services in an inclusive classroom setting. Goals on a child's Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) are incorporated into the child's Head Start individual education plan. GCSD Head Start of Ontario County is proud to have preschool children with special education eligibility receive quality services in a least restrictive, inclusive classroom environment.

    Parents are always invited to be involved and are informed about their child's progress.

    Staff Development and Training

    The Head Start Program provides staff at all levels and in all program areas with training to improve job performance and opportunities for career advancement within the program.

    The Child Development Associate (CDA) Program gives professional and non-professional employees the opportunity to study child development and related subjects at colleges and universities in courses which can lead to academic degrees or to certification in the field of early childhood education. A majority of these men and women are receiving CDA training which will provide them with credentials to work as professionals in the child care field.

    The national program to assess and certify child caregivers is administered by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) through its Council for Early Childhood Recognition in cooperation with the Administration on Children, Youth and Families.

    Volunteers & Partners

    Over the years, volunteers have been 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 their much needed help to local Head Start programs. Volunteers assist with classroom activities, assist with field trips, become "classroom readers", help with Head Start community events and projects.

    Community organizations provide a wide array of services to Head Start including the donation of meeting and training space, educational materials, eyeglasses for children, special equipment for disabled children, and medical and dental examinations. These services and the time spent by volunteers count toward the 20 percent non-Federal share of the local Head Start budget.