The first Head Start Program was begun on the Flathead
Reservation in 1965 as a summer program. Throughout the
years the Head Start Program has expanded into five
communities offering services to children in Polson,
Ronan, St. Ignatius, Dixon and Arlee. Children from Elmo
and Pablo communities are transported to Polson and
Ronan respectively for pre-school services.
The Flathead Head Start Program is funded by the
American Indian Programs Branch of the Head Start
Bureau. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, who
is the grantee agency for the Head Start Program, also
contributes generously to the operation of Head Start.
Head Start is a child development program for
children, primarily from low income families.
A percentage of over-income and a percentage of children
with disabilities are also enrolled.
Child Development Associate Program was started in
1972 in response to the growing need to upgrade the
quality of staff caring for Head Start children.
Currently, Nine staff members have attained their CDA.
Teaching staff also have a Class C Type II Commercial
drivers license. All Head Start staff receive CPR and
First Aid training on a yearly basis.
The five (5)major components of Head Start are
Education, Health, Nutrition, Parent Involvement, and
EDUCATION: Head Start's educational
program is designed to meet each child's individual
needs. It also aims to meet the needs of the community
it serves and the communities cultural characteristics.
Every child receives a variety of learning experiences
to foster intellectual, physical, social and emotional
Children participate in a variety of activities that
include a scheduled outdoor time for learning and gross
motor fun. Children are involved in a cooking activity
on a weekly basis. This occurs during small group time.
Children are encouraged to talk about their feelings, to
learn about themselves and others.
They develop confidence and improve skills while
interacting with their peers. The Confederated Salish
and Kootenai Tribes Head Start curriculum is based on
self concept with the knowledge that a child who feels
good and is confident will then succeed, grow and learn.
At Head Start we emphasize the importance of early
identification and treatment of health problems. Through
the cooperative efforts of parents, staff, and health
providers, each child receives the following:
1) Physical Examination - including immunization
update and hematocrit or hemoglobin.
2) Vision Screening
3) Hearing Screening
4) Dental Examination
5) Nutrition Services
In addition, each child is weighed and measured three
times during the school year. Mental health services are
also available to children. Referrals for further
evaluation and/or treatment of health problems are made
as needed, and follow-up services are provided.
NUTRITION: Head Start children are
served either breakfast and lunch or lunch and a snack
depending on class schedule. Teacher Cooks prepare
nutritious meals regulated by the United States
Department of Agriculture Child and Adult Care Food
Program. Nutrition safety and hygiene are main concerns
for a healthy happy classroom.
PARENT INVOLVEMENT: Parents are the
most important influence on a child's development and
are an essential part of the Head Start program. Parents
may also be involved in decision making, planning and
program operations. Parents participate in many
activities throughout the Head Start year. They
volunteer in the classroom, and are also involved in
social occasions, projects, meetings and educational
Native parents and grandparents can lend their
knowledge and expertise to assist the teaching staff
with cultural activities, study trips, and classroom
activities. The Salish and Kootenai culture is an part
of the Head Start experience.
SOCIAL SERVICES: The main objectives
are to be an advocate and spokesman for Head Start
families and to identify the social service needs of
Head Start families while working with other agencies to
meet those needs. Our Head Start team works together to
provide these services to families.