A Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) Program 

Head Start is a FREE ($8,700 per year/per child value), comprehensive school readiness program which enhances the social, physical, and cognitive development of children. Children’s skills are developed in language and literacy, early math, social and emotional development, nature and science, creative arts, fine and gross motor skills, physical health practices and nutrition.

head start children in class

Comprehensive services provided include:  

  • Early Childhood Education 
  • All children receive health and development screenings, nutritious meals, oral health, and mental health support. Families are connected with medical, dental, and mental health providers to ensure that children receive the services they need
  • Family Engagement
  • Wrap-around, extended-day services as needed
  • Transportation as needed

Head Start’s curriculum is evidence-based. Ongoing, age-appropriate assessment is utilized. Students’ progress is tracked, monitored, and shared with parents and other stakeholders.

EOC’s Head Start Program is a full-day, full-school-year, holistic early childhood development program for children ages 3-5 from low-income families. Head Start endeavors to improve and promote parent and family engagement to achieve positive outcomes, resulting in children who are healthy and ready to learn. It is recognized that, in order for children to thrive, they must have a healthy, stable home environment. Family engagement is a critical piece of the program. A family assessment, communications between the teacher and parents, and home visits engage parents in their child’s learning and development. Parents are supported in achieving their own goals. They receive training and referrals for community resources. The Head Start Program supports and strengthens parent-child relationships and engages families around children’s learning and development. Parents also volunteer in the classroom, on field trips, and some serve on the Policy Council.

Head Start is a Florida VPK (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten) provider. Parents must obtain a valid VPK certificate. Certificates and additional information are available by contacting the Early Learning Coalition of Indian River, Martin and Okeechobee Counties at (877) 220-1223 or by following the link below.

EOC’s seven (7) Centers in Indian River and Okeechobee Counties serve just under 400 children a year. All Centers are NAEYC accredited (National Association for the Education of Young Children). The program is funded by the Department of Health & Human Services and requires a 20% local match.

girls eating lunch

Why Choose Head Start?

  • EOC/Head Start has a 50+-year track record of success.
  • The curriculum is evidence-based.
  • All teachers have at least a CDA.  Each classroom has at least 1 teacher with an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree.
  • Head Start engages the family in the child’s learning.
  • EOC offers additional resources and programs to help your family succeed.
  • Your child deserves the best!

Why is it Important to Give Your Child a Head Start?
Children must be prepared for educational success by age 5 to succeed in school, work and life. Per the Indian River County Children’s Needs Assessment 2014:

  • 29% of County children were not kindergarten ready.
  • 44% County 3rd graders read below grade level.

Low-income children who don’t receive high-quality, early care and education often become statistics:

  • 25% more likely to drop out;
  • 40% more likely to become a teen parent;
  • 50% more likely to be placed in special education;
  • 60% more likely not to attend college;
  • 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.

Head Start Eligibility

  • Child must be 3 or 4 years of age on or before September 1 of the school year
  • Household income up to 130% of the poverty level View 2021 Poverty Level
  • Family homeless
  • Child in foster care
  • Family receiving public assistance (TANF or SSI)

Wrap-Around, Extended-Day Services (Okeechobee County Only)

  • Extended day services are offered to working parents or those continuing their education from 6:30 a.m. until 8:00 a.m. and afternoons from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

In accordance with Federal Law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call toll free (866) 632-9992 (Voice). Individuals who are hearing impaired or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339; or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.