Hillsborough Early Head Start. Family Child Care Homes
Family Child Care Homes
Lutheran Services Florida offers Early Head Start programming in family child care home settings. Federal funding for the program comes to LSF through Hillsborough County Head Start/Early Head Start under the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners.Early Head Start is a federally-funded community-based program for low-income families with infants and toddlers. Its mission is simple: to enhance the development of very young children and to promote healthy family functioning. EHS provides comprehensive, year-round child and family development services for low-income families with children ages six weeks to 3 years.EHS is operated locally by Hillsborough County Head Start/Early Head Start, which is one of the largest Head Start programs in the southeastern United States, serving 3,474 children and their families. The agency recently received the largest Early Head Start American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant award in the State of Florida. The agency was awarded $11.7 million to expand both Head Start and Early Head Start in 2010. The funds, awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will be received over a two-year period. The funds will create or retain 90 jobs, including early childhood teaching positions and coordinators for social services, according to the Hillsborough County Head Start/Early Head Start website.Thanks to these new funds, Hillsborough County has partnered with Lutheran Services Florida and the Tampa Metropolitan YMCA. The majority of the infants and toddlers served by LSF and the YMCA will be served in family child care homes, a popular child care choice for many parents, but a rare option for Early Head Start. The program has now become the largest family child care provider in the nation for Early Head Start, according to the Hillsborough County Head Start/Early Head Start website. Many of the family child care home providers in the expanded program are part of LSF’s Child Care Food Program, which is designed to ensure that children in day care programs receive healthy, well-balanced food every day. LSF’s Child Care Food Program, with more than 550 day care homes, is the largest in the State of Florida. The YMCA offers a program to train family child care home providers to receive the Child Development Associate degree, which is a requirement to become an Early Head Start provider.Most Early Head Start family child care homes serve no more than four infants and toddlers. The program promotes developmentally appropriate intellectual, emotional and social activities based on the Creative Curriculum for Infants, Toddlers and Two’s. During weekly home visits and parent-toddler activity groups, trained EHS staff plan activities with families to foster the child's development, increase family literacy, promote healthy parent-child relationships and provide parenting support and education. Parents are assisted with transitioning their children into Head Start or other preschool programs when the child reaches age three. Families are linked to community resources such as food, clothing, housing, child care, employment, English classes, health care and mental health counseling.Studies show that EHS has a positive effect on child development. Findings from an EHS Impact Study show that EHS children on average have higher cognitive development scores, larger vocabularies at age three, and demonstrate a higher level of social-emotional development than children in a control group. Studies also show that EHS programs improve the health of the children and the families they serve.LSF has a long standing history of providing educational opportunities to children through the Head Start Program. The PEPPI (Preschool Enrichment Program with Parental Involvement) Head Start Program has for nearly three decades been improving the quality of life for at-risk preschool children by providing comprehensive services to families in Belle Glade, a poverty-stricken area populated largely by low-income families and migrant workers. Every parent is required to play an active role in the program including participating in school activities, volunteering in the classroom, serving as chaperones for school field trips and maintaining the school building and property. Since PEPPI began in 1982, thousands of children and their families in the Belle Glade area have benefited from the services provided by LSF's PEPPI Head Start Program.EligibilityFamilies must meet current Federal Poverty Guidelines in order for their children to qualify for Early Head Start. Parents must provide: proof of income (income tax returns, W-2 forms, Form 1099 or paycheck stubs); proof of benefits or support received from AFDC/TANF/Food Stamps, court-ordered child support, Social Security/SSI, foster care grants or unemployment benefits; Bureau of Vital Statistics birth certificate for eligible children; proof of guardianship or custody, if applicable; work and/or school status for parents; proof of residency (electric bill, water bill or driver’s license); and the child’s current physical and immunization records.If no openings are available for children who are deemed eligible for the program, the children will be placed on a waiting list.For More InformationFor more information on the LSF Early Head Start Program, call 813-676-9489 or visit the office at 3635 W. Waters Ave., Tampa, FL 33614 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.