HILLSBOROUGH Community members can learn more about Orange County Head Start/Early Head Start during an open house Thursday at Fairview Child & Family Center, 125 Lawndale Ave. in Hillsborough.
The open house will run from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Visitors can talk with staff and parents, get applications, and see Early Head Start and Head Start classrooms in action on small group tours of the center.
OCHS/EHS serves over 200 children from pregnancy through age 5 in Orange County and is currently selecting children to replace those who will age out this summer, officials said in a news release. Applications are accepted year-round and can be submitted by fax or in person at any OCHS/EHS site. The community is encouraged to reach out to families with children under 5 who are struggling and need additional support and encourage them to apply. There is no cost to families for the program.
Federal Early Head Start grants received by Chapel Hill Training Outreach Project make it possible for OCHS/EHS to serve over 50 infants and toddlers at two high quality child care programs: Chapel Hill Day Care Center and Fairview Child and Family Center, as well as over 60 infants and toddlers and pregnant women in the home visiting program known as the Home-Based option.
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The Early Head Start Home-Based option offers weekly home visits and biweekly parent-child playgroups provided by bilingual staff who implement the Parents As Teachers Foundational curriculum. The Home-Based option reaches out to Latino immigrants and refugee families from Burma as well as English-speakers who are isolated and need and want services in their home. Pregnant women and families with children under 3 who live anywhere in Orange County are eligible to apply for the home-based or child care center-based options.
The federal Head Start grant received by Chapel Hill Training Outreach Project and NC PreK funding make it possible for OCHS/EHS to serve 54 4-year-olds in classrooms in three Orange County elementary schools: Pathways, Central and Efland-Cheeks. In addition, OCHS/EHS offers Head Start slots to 26 3- to 4-year-olds at the Fairview Child & Family Center. Families with a preschool age child who live in Orange County School District are eligible to apply. CHCCS District offers Head Start services to preschool children who live in their district.
OCHS/EHS serves the most vulnerable children and families in our community, officials said in the release. These families are struggling to meet basic needs and to raise happy, healthy children. Typical family goals are finding stable and safe housing, finding secure jobs, finding affordable child care, getting a GED or high school diploma, preparing children for kindergarten, accessing mental health support, learning English, learning to read and becoming better parents. They are living in apartments, trailers and houses and are working in local restaurants, construction, hotels, convenience stores, fast food restaurants, child care centers, and house cleaning companies.
“For over 16 years, the OCHS/EHS program has focused on the protective factors that are proven buffers against the risks of growing up in poverty,” the release said. “Research has found that the best thing our community can do to protect children is to support healthy families by: promoting nurturing parent-child relationships, enhancing knowledge of parenting and of child development, strengthening parental and child resilience to stress, building families’ social connections and identifying concrete supports for parents.”
OCHS/EHS collaborates with county, state and non-profit agencies to offer coordinated services to enrolled families. The staff includes specialists in the areas of health, nutrition, mental health, early intervention, child development and family engagement.
OCHS/EHS staff includes over 15 employees who are fluent in Spanish and English and one home visitor who is fluent in English, Burmese and Karen.