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Apply now for Fall 2024!

A Whole Family, Whole Child Comprehensive Program

Discover why Head Start is much more than just preschool.

WCMCA Head Start and Early Head Start programs support the comprehensive development of children from birth to age 5 in centers and in their own homes. Head Start services include early learning, health, and family well-being. We serve Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse and Wadena counties.

wcmca head start

Head Start Works!

Children who are enrolled in Head Start as preschoolers show:

Lower Dropout Rates

Higher Test Scores

Higher Employment Rates Later in Life

STRENGTHENING CHILDREN, FAMILIES & COMMUNITIES

About Our Programs

Head Start and Early Head Start are state and federally funded programs for children birth to age five and pregnant mothers.

The programs offer comprehensive services to enrolled children and families, giving priority to limited income families and families of children with special needs.

Head Start is a leader in local collaborative efforts with school districts, health departments, employment and training institutions, government entities, and other organizations to provide the maximum in unduplicated services.

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Head Start

For Ages 3-5

This is a center-based program for children ages 3-5 and typically meets 4 days a week. Actual dates & times vary by location – please click here to view locations & program times.

  • A school-readiness approach is used
  • Age-appropriate curriculum and assessment
  • Health & nutritional services
  • Dental services
  • Services for children with special needs
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Early Head Start

For Birth to Age 3

This is a home-based program for pregnant mothers and children from birth to age 3.

Frequently Asked Questions

Children from birth to age 5 from families with low income, according to the federal Poverty Guidelines, are eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services.

Children in foster care, children experiencing homelessness, and children from families receiving public assistance (TANFSSI, or SNAP) are categorically eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services regardless of income.

Head Start programs may enroll up to 10% of children from families that have incomes above the Poverty Guidelines. Programs may also serve up to an additional 35% of children from families whose incomes are above the Poverty Guidelines, but below 130% of the poverty line if the program can ensure that certain conditions have been met.

Pregnant women and pregnant people may also be eligible for Early Head Start services. Our team can help you determine if you qualify and would be happy to help.

Children in foster care are Head Start-eligible, regardless of family income.

We have locations throughout the West Central Minnesota region, including 10 Early Head Start and 13 Head Start locations. To view all of the WCMCA locations, please click here.

If you need help finding a program in your area, use the Head Start Center Locator or call the Head Start Information and Communications Center at (toll-free) 866-763-6481.

It's okay if you missed the "start" of school! We understand families come and go, and can usually accept new students at any time throughout the school year. To find out for sure, please get in touch with our team and we can help determine if there is room in the program nearest you. 

Programs must ensure at least 10% of its total funded enrollment is filled by children eligible for services under Section 619 or Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. 

Early Head Start provides comprehensive, wraparound support, such as home visiting, health screenings, enriching childcare, and parental skill-building and education, to pregnant families and children from income-eligible households. There are three key areas of Early Head Start’s support: child care, health support for children, and prenatal, pregnancy, and postpartum support for families.

  • Child care: Early Head Start provides extensive, quality child care options to meet the needs of working parents. Through home-based child care and center-based spots, Early Head Start providers and educators offer quality, research-based care for working families. 94% of center-based slots are offered five days a week for more than six hours per day.
  • Health support for children: Early Head Start ensures that young children, from prenatal through age three, have quality health care. This includes providing health insurance and medical home assistance, dental health support, and access to regular immunizations.
  • Support for pregnant women and families: Early Head Start offers critical support that gives parents and families the skills to build a strong foundation for their young children’s future. Such support includes: parenting education, health education, housing assistance, job training, substance abuse prevention, and domestic violence prevention.

Most children who enroll in Head Start attend a half-day center-based program. However, some communities may operate a full-day program. Some center-based programs offer children bus rides to and from home.

When the children arrive at the center, they are greeted warmly by their teachers. They put whatever they have brought from home in a place which is their own to use every day.

Classroom time includes many different activities. Some teachers begin the day by asking the children to sit in a circle. This encourages the children to talk about an idea or experience they want to share with others. In some centers, the children plan their activities. They may choose among art, playing with blocks or table toys, science activities, dancing to music, looking at books, or pretend housekeeping. Children can switch activities if they prefer another challenge.

Each day, they have time to work in a small group with other children and to play outdoors on safe playground equipment.

At lunchtime, children receive a nutritious meal and brush their teeth. All the children are taught to wash their hands before meals, and are encouraged to develop good personal and health habits. If they come for an afternoon session, they also receive a healthy snack.

Parents are a vital part of our program. Parent participation is always welcome and encouraged. There are a variety of opportunities to volunteer such as parent committees, policy council, and classroom assistance. 

We offer health services through free professional hearing, and vision screening, and meal plans for children with food allergies. The health coordinator is available to answer health-related questions that you may have about your child.

No, Head Start does not require children to be potty trained for enrollment.

Early Head Start teachers are required to have an Infant/Toddler CDA. Head Start teachers are required to have an Associates or Bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education. Teacher assistants are required to have a Pre-School CDA.

Children from birth to age 5 from families with low income, according to the federal Poverty Guidelines, are eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services.

Children in foster care, children experiencing homelessness, and children from families receiving public assistance (TANFSSI, or SNAP) are categorically eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services regardless of income.

Head Start programs may enroll up to 10% of children from families that have incomes above the Poverty Guidelines. Programs may also serve up to an additional 35% of children from families whose incomes are above the Poverty Guidelines, but below 130% of the poverty line if the program can ensure that certain conditions have been met.

Pregnant women and pregnant people may also be eligible for Early Head Start services. Our team can help you determine if you qualify and would be happy to help.

Children in foster care are Head Start-eligible, regardless of family income.

We have locations throughout the West Central Minnesota region, including 10 Early Head Start and 13 Head Start locations. To view all of the WCMCA locations, please click here.

If you need help finding a program in your area, use the Head Start Center Locator or call the Head Start Information and Communications Center at (toll-free) 866-763-6481.

It's okay if you missed the "start" of school! We understand families come and go, and can usually accept new students at any time throughout the school year. To find out for sure, please get in touch with our team and we can help determine if there is room in the program nearest you. 

Programs must ensure at least 10% of its total funded enrollment is filled by children eligible for services under Section 619 or Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. 

Early Head Start provides comprehensive, wraparound support, such as home visiting, health screenings, enriching childcare, and parental skill-building and education, to pregnant families and children from income-eligible households. There are three key areas of Early Head Start’s support: child care, health support for children, and prenatal, pregnancy, and postpartum support for families.

  • Child care: Early Head Start provides extensive, quality child care options to meet the needs of working parents. Through home-based child care and center-based spots, Early Head Start providers and educators offer quality, research-based care for working families. 94% of center-based slots are offered five days a week for more than six hours per day.
  • Health support for children: Early Head Start ensures that young children, from prenatal through age three, have quality health care. This includes providing health insurance and medical home assistance, dental health support, and access to regular immunizations.
  • Support for pregnant women and families: Early Head Start offers critical support that gives parents and families the skills to build a strong foundation for their young children’s future. Such support includes: parenting education, health education, housing assistance, job training, substance abuse prevention, and domestic violence prevention.

Most children who enroll in Head Start attend a half-day center-based program. However, some communities may operate a full-day program. Some center-based programs offer children bus rides to and from home.

When the children arrive at the center, they are greeted warmly by their teachers. They put whatever they have brought from home in a place which is their own to use every day.

Classroom time includes many different activities. Some teachers begin the day by asking the children to sit in a circle. This encourages the children to talk about an idea or experience they want to share with others. In some centers, the children plan their activities. They may choose among art, playing with blocks or table toys, science activities, dancing to music, looking at books, or pretend housekeeping. Children can switch activities if they prefer another challenge.

Each day, they have time to work in a small group with other children and to play outdoors on safe playground equipment.

At lunchtime, children receive a nutritious meal and brush their teeth. All the children are taught to wash their hands before meals, and are encouraged to develop good personal and health habits. If they come for an afternoon session, they also receive a healthy snack.

Parents are a vital part of our program. Parent participation is always welcome and encouraged. There are a variety of opportunities to volunteer such as parent committees, policy council, and classroom assistance. 

We offer health services through free professional hearing, and vision screening, and meal plans for children with food allergies. The health coordinator is available to answer health-related questions that you may have about your child.

No, Head Start does not require children to be potty trained for enrollment.

Early Head Start teachers are required to have an Infant/Toddler CDA. Head Start teachers are required to have an Associates or Bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education. Teacher assistants are required to have a Pre-School CDA.