Head Start Frequently Asked Questions


What is Head Start?

Head Start is a federal program that promotes school-readiness of preschool children from low-income families. The Head Start program is operated by local organizations in almost every county in the country. For more information visit U.S. Department of Health & Human Service's Office of Head Start.

What is Harris County Department of Education Head Start?

HCDE Head Start is a federally-funded program that has served low-income children and families in northeast Harris County since 1999. We currently operate 15 locations within schools, community centers and independent sites. Our program currently serves over 1,080 children and families. We provide a comprehensive program to children/families and it is our mission to improve school readiness for children, families and the community. The children and families in our program receive services in the following areas: education and child development, family and community partnerships, health, nutrition, disability and mental wellness. The program assists with follow-up care for any child identified with a special need.

What does the HCDE Head Start program offer your child?

  • Curriculum: Frog Street Pre-K is a comprehensive, bilingual program that integrates instruction across developmental domains and early learning disciplines. The program focuses on both academic development as well as social-emotional development, using differentiated and varying approaches to instruction to meet the needs of all Head Start learners. There are nine themes totaling 180 days of instruction and family engagement to support the whole learner. Each lesson provides English and Spanish instruction for ease of teaching in bilingual classrooms. The curriculum was developed by well-known researchers and publishers across the education field, basically a “dream team of early childhood professionals.”
  • Ongoing assessment/school readiness: HCDE Head Start works with parents, teachers and district partners to establish an ongoing assessment process. The process is aligned to the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework, state early learning guidelines and local school district’s expectations for students transitioning into kindergarten. Student’s progress is measured based on curriculum expectations, typical development and school readiness goals.
  • Children with disabilities: Head Start supports all classroom learners. The Education and Special Services team supports classroom education by providing professional development training to classroom teaching staff, supporting the Assistant Center Managers in mentoring, and providing continuity across the program with developmental screening, ESS follow-ups, home visits, parent-teacher conferences, and ongoing assessment procedures and expectations. All children receive individualized daily instruction. Children who enter Head Start needing additional developmental support or who are identified as needing additional support through screening will be supported by the ESS team and families through the referral process.

What does a HCDE Head Start student’s day look like?

The daily Head Start schedule which begins at 7:15 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m. includes the following activities:

  • Breakfast (with teeth brushing)
  • Circle 1: Welcome, morning message, calendar, weather, weekly theme/letter of the week, introduction/review of learning centers
  • Learning centers (individual and small-group learning)
  • Outdoor learning
  • Circle 2: Daily news, social/emotional lesson
  • Music and movement
  • Journal writing
  • Lunch (with teeth brushing)
  • Rest time
  • Snack time
  • Read aloud
  • Journal writing

What can Head Start offer your family?

The Head Start program offers a variety of services to meet the overall needs of its families. Head Start families receive individualized support to meet goals they have set for themselves and case management services to ensure the health and wellbeing of their children. As a part of school readiness, families learn the importance of keeping children on a schedule of well-child care. Head Start works with families to ensure children are up to date on immunizations, that they receive dental exams every six months and a physical exam every 12 months. The program assists families in connecting with many different kinds of community resources, such as GED or ESL classes, counseling services and job training.

In addition to providing family support services, Head Start works to strengthen parental involvement at home, at school and in the community. By participating in parent groups and literacy activities, families discover new and exciting ways to make the most out of everyday teaching moments. There are many opportunities for volunteering within the program, such as assisting in the classroom, which helps improve school readiness for children and broadens the experiences of family members. Parents may also assume leadership roles within the program by serving on the Policy Council or Parent Committee. By participating in the program this way, parents raise their own self-confidence and learn how to advocate for their children and others.

For more information, please contact:
Venetia L. Peacock, Director