CHENANGO COUNTY – Those who have heard of Chenango County's Head Start program may imagine little ones having fun and participating in activities to prepare them for school. Fun and activities are certainly a part of the program, but a visit to Opportunities for Chenango, Inc., of which Head Start is a member, revealed a multi-faceted, family-oriented program that has cemented itself as an important community asset.
“I was blown away with what this agency does,” said Kelly Ingham, RN and Health Services Coordinator. “We are here to serve the whole family.”
The program consists of Head Start, which enrolls children from three to five years in age, and Early Head Start, that serves pregnant women and children from birth to age three and incorporates home visits. The program is voluntary and free depending upon how a family falls in the income guidelines. Head Start mainly offers services to low-income families, and a minimum of 10 percent of children enrolled have diagnosed disabilities. The overarching goal is to make all children school-ready.
“Head Start works, we see tremendous growth,” said Karen Randall, the Head Start and Early Head Start Director.
Head Start provides education, resources, and support for families in the areas of child development, nutrition, health and family development. “We help parents feel good about themselves,” Randall said. “We're the support for the family so they can achieve goals they set for themselves.”