FULTON, NY â€“ Low-income families looking for a preschool program for their three or four year old children can turn to Oswego County Opportunitiesâ€™ Head Start Preschool program for the answer to their needs.
Operated at 7 centers throughout Oswego County, OCOâ€™s Head Start program offers children from low-income families the opportunity to attend a quality preschool program that not only prepares them for kindergarten but also provides services in the areas of health, nutrition, disabilities, mental health, and family services.
â€œOCOâ€™s Head Start program offers parents and children much more than the usual preschool program,â€ said education/community services assistant with the Head Start program Heather Crofoot. â€œWe offer the convenience of longer hours, nutritious meals and snacks, and accessibility to nurses who provide vision and hearing screenings. We also promote and encourage parent involvement on a variety of levels. From volunteering in the classroom to helping out at the centers and even assisting in our kitchen if they enjoy cooking, we welcome parents and value their input and involvement with the program.â€
Crofoot added that OCOâ€™s Head Start program also hosts monthly parent meetings where parents can be a part of the decisions that impact their center, become involved with workshops, or just simply share ideas and thoughts about the program.
â€œParents are a driving force at Head Start. In addition to center involvement parents are also a part of our policy council, the governing body of the county-wide program. Parent involvement is a huge piece of what Head Start is and we welcome their participation,â€ she said.
When it comes to preparing children for kindergarten the staff at OCOâ€™s Head Start program consistently meet the challenge.
â€œHead Start provides children with a strong pre-kindergarten experience. All of our teachers hold degrees and are focused on the goal of promoting school readiness. Throughout the day, children participate in a variety of educational activities involving math, literacy, language, science, social-emotional, and much more,â€ said Crofoot.
OCOâ€™s Head Start program enrolls children from all 9 Oswego County school districts and is available at 7 locations throughout the county. Applications are accepted year round at all locations as well as at OCOâ€™s main office, 239 Oneida St.
Provided at no cost, Head Start Preschool is available to families with incomes at or below federally set guidelines.
Those interested in applying must bring the childâ€™s birth certificate or Medicaid card, proof of 2009 income (such as taxes, W2s, budget sheets, etc.), and Social Security cards.
For more information on the Head Start program or the application process, contact OCOâ€™s Children Services Department at 598-4711 or 1-800-359-1171.