San Francisco Head Start & Early Head Start Program
The Child Health and Developmental Services area of San Francisco Early Head Start/Head Start is committed to wellness that embraces a comprehensive vision of health for children, families, and staff, with an emphasis on education, advocacy, and prevention. Through collaborative work among parents and staff, all child health and developmental concerns are identified and addressed. Services link children and their families to a system of on-going preventive health care. Each family is assisted and encouraged to establish a primary "Medical Home" to ensure continued positive health care actions and decisions that will meet the basic health needs of all family members.
Parents are supported and educated on how to become advocates for the health of their family members. They are encouraged by the staff to be involved in all aspects of their child’s health care: helping them to learn the importance of prevention, early detection, and treatment.
Collaborations with various health and safety related community based organizations in San Francisco create opportunities for the health services area to continuously improve the quality of services to families. Expanding the community network and exchanging resources with collaborating organizations assists in identifying and disseminating information regarding health and safety issues that families face today in the City of San Francisco.
Disabilities and Mental Health Services
San Francisco Head Start/Early Head Start works closely with the San Francisco Unified School District and the Early Interventionists at Golden Gate Regional Center to provide and coordinate services for children with disabilities and their families. Head Start/Early Head Start staff work with families and service providers to develop a range of services to meet the individual needs of children who require some adaptation to the learning environment. We provide assistance, information and resources to families in San Francisco to assist them in becoming advocates for themselves and for their children with special needs.
Here are links to websites about disabilities that you may find helpful:
Local support groups and training for parents:
Legal services and other resources:
Child Care Inclusion Project
IDEA, Early Intervention, and Special Education:
High Risk Infant Interagency
Golden Gate Regional Center
San Francisco Unified School District Special Education
Federal Law: The Individuals with Disabilities Education
Programs for teachers and service providers:
Support for Families
Key agencies serving children with disabilities:
Support for Families
Information about specific disabilities:
Information about speech and language delays and disorders:
Kaufman Children’s Center for
Speech, Language, Sensory-motor, and Social Connections
Mental Health Service Area
Mental health services are made available for all San Francisco Head Start/Early Head Start families. Those services include:
If you have any concerns regarding your child, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s Center Director and/or Family Advocate at your center or your Home Visitor. A referral can be submitted to the mental health consultant who will meet with you to discuss your concerns.
Here are links to parenting, behavior and mental health websites that you may find helpful:
Local Mental Health Services and Resources:
Mental Health Board of San
Child, Youth and Family Services
Bayview/Hunter’s Point Foundation
Westside Community Services
Child rearing, discipline and children’s behavior:
Evidence-based classroom behavior management practices:
Center for Evidence-based
Practice for Young Children with Challenging Behavior
Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations of Early
National Mental Health Information Center
The San Francisco Head Start Nutrition Program is committed to promoting nutritional health by meeting each child’s nutritional needs, including those with special dietary needs and with disabilities. The nutritional needs of children and families are identified in relation to their health, cultural, dietary and community needs. Family eating patterns are acknowledged and taken into account when planning menus. Each day SF Head Start serves breakfast, lunch and a snack to the children in our centers.
Meals are nutritious and children learn to develop healthful eating habits and broaden their food experiences. Children are given the opportunity to participate in a variety of learning experiences about food and proper nutrition to encourage them to make healthy food choices and to learn how food affects their health. Teaching staff coordinates nutrition lessons with well-balanced meals and snacks. Mealtime is an opportunity for children to develop social skills and build positive self-esteem.
Children and families are taught how to eat healthily. Good eating habits at an early age will nurture healthy development and promote lifelong optimal wellness. Parents are involved with ensuring foods served take into account cultural and ethnic preferences.
San Francisco Head Start participates in the California Department of Education Child Care Food Program that is funded through the United States Department of Agriculture. Head Start uses the funds from this child nutrition program as the primary source to cover for meal costs.
Here are links to websites about nutrition that you may find helpful:
Family & Community Partnerships
Family Partnerships--Family collaborative partnerships are established with all Head Start parents and families to build relationships, strengthen mutual trust, and provide open communication. Family partnerships will assist in identifying strength s, goals, needed services, and support resources by promoting the growth of families and encouraging self-advocacy skills using culturally sensitive practices. The process of establishing these partnerships begins at the time the child and family is enrolled in Head Start. The Family Needs Assessment, in conjunction with the Community Needs Assessment, will assist staff in identifying and designing educational and parent involvement activities that are responsive to the needs and interests of all families.
Community Partnerships--San Francisco State University and
Head Start Program staff continue to strengthen and develop new
collaborations with agencies and partners in the community to improve
the access and delivery of community services, advance the development
of a continuum of family centered services, and to advocate for the
healthy development of children and families of Head Start. Ongoing
collaborative partnerships are established for purposes of program
planning, advocating for resources, integrating services, ensuring
quality services, and evaluating program performance through advisory
committees, which include Head Start parents, professionals and other
Early Head Start Program
The San Francisco Early Head Start home-based program (EHS) supports pregnant women, children (birth to age three) and their families through home visits and parent/child interaction experiences. Early Head Start Home Visitors provide comprehensive services to support and strengthen the relationships between infants, toddlers and their parents. The strength and quality of these relationships are essential for optimal child development outcomes during this period of rapid social, emotional, physical and cognitive development. Parents are encouraged and supported to recreate and build on the activities that are introduced during home visits.
In addition, our
program helps pregnant women to gain health care before and after
pregnancy. We also provide prenatal education on fetal development,
labor and delivery, postpartum recovery and the benefits of breast
feeding. There is follow-up with post-natal care after the baby is
In addition to weekly home visits, socializations with other families are scheduled twice a month. These parent/child interactions are another opportunity to strengthen and support relationships by providing parents with opportunities to:
The home-based program option is designed for families whose children and parents are primarily in the home environment and offers comprehensive Early Head Start services through regular home visits and parent/child interaction experiences. It is the relationship with the Home Visitor that forms the foundation for effective service delivery. Similarly, it is the relationship between the parent and infant or toddler that provides the foundation from which very young children develop the social competence necessary for later success in school and in life. Comprehensive, high-quality home visitation services strengthen and support families so that they, in turn, can provide the best possible support for their children.
San Francisco Early Head Start is an evidence-based program. We use the “Born to Learn” curriculum for infants and toddlers and “Partners for a Healthy Baby” for expecting families. These curricula were developed by Parents as Teachers, Incorporated. We also use the “Ages and Stages” questionnaire as a developmental screening tool, and the Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP-R) for infants and toddlers is the program’s developmental assessment tool.
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