Empowered through education and pre-school programs with the support of partners and using pre-school educational programming, this Division prepares students for academic success by providing various learning initiatives.
Early Head Start (EHS)
Early Head Start (EHS) Program ensures that children (0-3 years of age) and their families of low income receive the academic, social, mental, health, and nutritional education they need to be successful as they continue in their life journey. Families can enroll in our center base or home base program. The Center base program is offered at 3 different locations for children. The center base program provides a classroom setting where the children needs are met with a 1 to 4 child/staff ratio.
The EHS Center base program follows the High Reach Curriculum which allows the children to explore their environments and helps the teachers expand the curriculum. It also expands communication skills through sign language. The EHS Home Base program is a weekly parent-focused home visits that include health, nutrition, resources and education focusing on the "Parent as Teachers" curriculum. Such services enable parents to be a part of their child's learning experience. Participants in this program learn how to develop secure relationships, encourage cognitive skills, promote physical health, and acquire life skills. Home Visitors also provide ongoing support for pregnant mothers throughout their pregnancy; ensuring that their nutritional and medical needs are met.
The EHS program serves at least 96 children every year.
Head Start (HS)
Head Start is a free program that helps low income preschool children (3-5 yrs of age) and their families succeed in school and in life. It is designed to prepare the children for Kindergarten and beyond as well as meet the nutritional, health, social and mental health needs of the children and their families. The Springfield Urban League has operated a Head Start Program in Sangamon and Morgan counties since 1990.
The Head Start Program serves at least 619 children, 3-5 years of age, and their families in Sangamon and Morgan counties; within these counties the Head Start program has 8 different sites, 5 are located in Springfield, 2 are located in Jacksonville and one in Riverton. To ensure school readiness for all of our children, the SUL Head Start implements the Creative Curriculum, InvestiGator Club curriculum and Jolly Phonics program along with other supplemental materials that promote language, literacy, math, science, creative arts, social studies, social-emotional development, approaches to learning, logic and reasoning, physical health and development. Children receive a variety of learning experiences to foster their intellectual, social, emotional and physical growth. Children participate in indoor and outdoor play, field trips around the community, and music, art, and language activities. As guided by the Conscious Discipline Curriculum, children are encouraged to express their feelings, develop a good feeling about themselves, and work well with others.
Wee Grow Before/After Care Program
Wee Grow is a wrap around program for our working parents and our parents who are enrolled in school. This program provides care before and after Head Start /Early Head Start hours and is open throughout the summer, when traditional Head Start is not in session. Services are offered for families at our Cook Street site. These services are available from 6:45am-8:45am (Before) and 3:30pm -5:30pm (After). Financial assistance is available to families who qualify through Community Child Care Connection (CCCC). The Wee Grow program is an extension of our EHS and Head Start Program at the Cook Site, therefore the quality program that is offered in Head Start and Early Head Start program is continued throughout the Wee Grow program.
Thank You United Way!
This year the Wee Grow program received a $50,000 Grant from United Way; $30,000 of the grant went for scholarships for families that are struggling to pay for their child care. So far, during the months of August and September the program has been able to help at least 28 families! The program hopes to continue to help on an average 14 families each month. The other $20,000 was given to the program for 3 new classroom computers, and 9 tablets to be shared throughout the 4 designated classrooms at the site.
Through United Way, and it its partnership with "Dolly Parton's Imagination Library", our Early Head Start and Head Start children, from birth to five years old in Sangamon County, are registered to receive a new, free book each month to their homes. Currently over 600,000 children are registered in the USA, Canada, and United Kingdom for the program.
Lights, Camera, Literacy!
This past year, as well as this year, the children have been able to be a part of a PNC grant given to the UIS Sangamon Auditorium that allows the children of Head Start to attend 2 live productions of children stories each year. As part of the grant the UIS Sangamon Auditorium staff visits all the classrooms before they attend the productions to read the books and conduct activities with the children. The auditorium also offers a family night with activities, food, and a show. As part of PNC's commitment, volunteers from local banks help with the activities. The Head Start children in Springfield are also a part of a Language literacy program with the Springfield School District 186. The district staff reiterates the stories of the productions and activities by reading the same stories as well. Being able to expose the children to these highly professional productions have given the children the opportunity to experience the fine arts, dramatic play, and literacy come to life! During the 2011-2012 school year the children were able to see a presentation of "Treasured Stories by Eric Carle", "Aesop's Fables", "Skippy Jon Jones", and " Fancy Nancy and Other Story Books".
Family and Community Partnership
In August of 2011, The National Head Start Center has implemented the Head Start Parent, Family and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework, the first of its kind. The Parent, Family and Community Engagement Framework provide programs with a research based, organizational guide for implementing relevant Head Start Program Performance Standards. Because supporting children's school readiness is an ongoing partnership between staff and families, the PFCE Framework is a tool that all staff and families can use. The entire Head Start and Early Head Start staff has received training.
As the League continues to rise to the challenge of empowering our children and their families, the Head Start and Early Head Start programs recognize the need to continue to promote a healthy lifestyle and good nutritional choices. This year collaboration was created with Lewis and Clark College in Godfrey, IL. This collaboration gives the programs access to their health van, which provided physicals, dental exams, and lead and hemoglobin screening to over 100 families this past fall. In addition to the continuing dental care provided by Orland Park Dental Services Inc. (OPDS) of Peoria, IL, this year they are offering additional funding for follow ups on dental services. Another new collaboration we have this year is with Sangamon County Resource Services. They are providing funding for dental work that requires sedation for the children of the programs.