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October is Head Start Awareness Month

Pictured are a few of the students, parents, and siblings of Oswego County Head Start's Williamstown Center as they enjoy a wagon ride during a recent field trip to Behling's Apple Orchard.
Pictured are a few of the students, parents, and siblings of Oswego County Head Start's Williamstown Center as they enjoy a wagon ride during a recent field trip to Behling's Apple Orchard.

Head Start was created in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson as an eight week summer program for young children of low-income families. Over the years it has undergone many changes. It is now a year-long preschool program that provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to children and their families.

Head Start is the longest running national school-readiness program in the United States. In the 44 years since Head Start began, more than twenty-five million children aged three through five have participated in the program. This year alone there are nearly one million children enrolled in Head Start. In all, there are more than sixteen-hundred different Head Start programs across the country. These programs are responsible for operating more than 48,000 classrooms in every state and practically every county in the country. Since 1999, more than 4,000 children have been students of Head Start Preschool in Oswego County.

On average, children that have attended Head Start rank higher in language, literacy, social conduct, and physical development than their non-Head Start peers. Head Start children are also significantly more likely to complete high school and attend college than those who did not participate in the program.

Head Start recognizes that parents are a child’s first and primary teacher. In Oswego County, each Head Start center has a team of staff who partner with families to provide parent involvement, educational, nutritional, medical, dental, transition, mental health, and disability services. Each classroom has a teacher, teacher assistant, and classroom aide who provide children with opportunities to engage in many different types of educational and social activities to prepare them for a lifetime of learning. Family Advocates work closely with parents providing information, support, referrals, parenting classes, and helping meet goals set by the families.

Oswego County Head Start Preschool has centers throughout Oswego County, enrolling children from all nine school districts. Head Start accepts applications for enrollment year-round. For more information about the Head Start Preschool program please call 598-4711 or 800-359-1171.

Oswego County Opportunities, Inc operates the Head Start program. OCO is a non-profit agency that has been supporting communities throughout Oswego County since 1966. www.oco.org. OCO is a United Way of Greater Oswego County member agency.