Early Childhood Programs (ECP) Annual Report
According to the U.S. Census American Community Survey, nearly one in six children under the age of five in MICA’s five-county core service area live in poverty. Research has shown that these children are more likely to start their education at a development level behind that of their peers - a gap that tends to grow throughout a child’s education.
MICA offers Head Start (HS), for children 3-5 years old, and Early Head Start (EHS), for pregnant women and children 0-3 years old. These programs combine age-appropriate learning, social interaction, health screenings, nutrition education, strong parental engagement, and family development to provide children with a rich learning environment.
The Children We Serve:
In 2018, MICA’s Early Childhood Programs were funded to serve, at most, 284 children (208 in HS and 76 in EHS). Several HS classrooms operated on a program year with a summer break. Therefore, HS enrollment fell below capacity during the summer months, as noted in the graph. Two sites opened after the start of the program year, which resulted in lower enrollment. Marshalltown Head Start enrollment was affected by the July 2018 tornado.
Not only did hundreds of children receive a quality early childhood education, but their parents also received information and support, creating a strong and stable family environment. The need for early childhood services in MICA’s core counties is great with 1,830 children eligible for the opportunities offered by EHS and HS.
Providing the Foundation for a Strong Start
HS and EHS provide the groundwork for a child’s life-long educational success. Its immediate impact can be seen in preparing children for their entry into kindergarten.
HS and EHS children are assessed three to four times per program year. The number of assessments is determined based on the total months of programming. The programs assess children using the Teaching Strategies GOLD child assessment system.
Children’s learning and development are assessed in language and literacy, physical health and development, social and emotional development, approaches to learning and cognition, and general knowledge.
The charts on the right reflect the number of children meeting or exceeding expectations on the GOLD assessment in these domains as of Summer 2018.
The program also recognizes the role of health, dental, and mental health care in the development of healthy children. During the 2017-2018 program year, 100% of EHS children received appropriate medical services including oral health care. Of EHS children, 97% were up-to-date on immunizations and 100% were enrolled in some form of health insurance. Pregnant women enrolled in EHS all received prenatal care. 100% of children completed dental exams. Head Start children also received appropriate medical treatment (98.8%), immunizations (99%), and were enrolled in some form of health insurance (100%).
Perhaps no element is as critical to a child’s success as parent engagement. We believe parents are a child’s most important teachers. Parents participate in home visits and conferences, set educational goals, read to their child, and engage in educational activities with their child at home. Parents are supported in understanding their child’s development and what they can do to nurture that development.
Through regularly scheduled Policy Council and Parent Committee meetings, parents help shape MICA’s Early Childhood Programs. Parent Committees give all parents opportunities to be involved in their child’s education and allow parents a shared, meaningful role in the decision-making process.
Parent engagement topics in 2018 included:
Visiting the Library
Making Healthy Transitions
Mental Health - Stress Reduction
Mental Health - Temperament
Nutrition - Food Budgeting
Nutrition - Healthy Meals/Snacks
Nutrition - Physical Fitness
Safety - First Aid
Safety - Fire Safety
Safety - Outdoor Family Fun
Safety - Bus/Pedestrian Safety
Going to the doctor
Health-personal hygiene, head lice
Advocacy, Opening Doors
Conscious Discipline – focusing on transitions
Car seat safety