Head Start Program Overview


What Is Head Start?

headstart01Head Start is a comprehensive service organization providing preschool to low-income children and their families. Since 1965 the program has assisted families in the areas of health, education, social services, and parent involvement. The program is a federal program and is funded through the Department of Health and Human Services. This Head Start program has a Regional Office located in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago office serves six states: Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio. A Regional Officer is assigned to each program and is the communication link. Annually a Federal Review Team conducts on-site visits to every program in the nation, focusing on a different review area each visit. The federal government awards a grant and the local match of 20% is expected to come from volunteer hours in the classroom and community exchange of goods and services.

Who Is KIRPC Head Start?
In 1997, the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission (K-IRPC) was awarded a grant to provide services to 108 children and their families in Jasper, Newton, and Pulaski counties in northwest Indiana. Through expansion opportunities, 148 children are now served.

The counties served are rural with the largest community having a population of 5,000. The program is free to families who are income eligible. The managers and/or director visit the sites on a regular basis and communicate and problem solve via phone, fax, and e-mail.

The transportation is contracted and services are paid through the grant.

The last Federal Review was conducted May 2016, focusing on Environmental Health and Safety.  

Where Are Our Local Head Start Classroom?
There are eight classrooms and five Head Start sites within the K-IRPC system serving Newton, Jasper, and Pulaski Counties. The sites are as follows:
  • Newton County: Roselawn, Generations Building and Goodland, Town Hall Building.
  • Jasper County: Rensselaer, Community Services Building, and DeMotte, Robert S. Fase Building.
  • Pulaski County: Winamac, Pulaski Human Services Building, and Francessvillel, West Central Elementary School.

Classroom Statistics
Each classroom has a teacher and an assistant teacher. Classes operate 9:30-1:30 Monday-Thursday. The August to May school year follows the public school system's calendar as much as possible.  A Family Engagement Specialist serves at least two classrooms.  A snack and lunch will be served in this four-hour school day.

Staff and parents work hand in hand to individualize teaching to each child.  Two home visits and two parent teacher conferences are held throughout the year to set individualized goals for both children and families.  Parents are encouraged to participate as volunteers to help meet the 20% non-federal local match.

There is transportation available to each location and it is contracted with the three community service agencies in the counties.

Transitioning to kindergarten is made easy through the Head Start process. School Readiness is practiced by using a developmentally appropriate curriculum called Creative Curriculum to prepare children for their public school experience.  Field trips are made to visit each elementary school so children feel more comfortable when arriving at Kindergarten. 

How Can The Community Help?

The best way for the community to help is to volunteer in the classrooms of your local Head Start program.

Taking time to be a “guest reader” demonstrates that literacy is important to adults and encourages the desire of the child to read.
Volunteering to assist in the classroom demonstrates that the community cares about low income children.
Volunteering is a win-win situation. The child receives encouragement and you receive satisfaction for having made a positive difference in your community.


Employment Opportunities

KIRPC Head Start employs 8 Teachers, 8 Teacher Assistants, 6 Teacher Aides, 5 Nutrition Aides, 4 Family Engagement Specialists, and 4 management staff. 

Applications can be dropped off at any of the Head Start classrooms or the Grantee Office.    Click here for an application.



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