Kansas Early Head Start, (KEHS) is a social service and child development program primarily for pregnant women and families with infants and toddlers who meet the Federal poverty guidelines. KEHS is modeled after the federal Early Head Start program that was created by the U.S. Congress. All KEHS programs follow Head Start Performance Standards that require at least 10 percent of total enrollment slots be made available to children with disabilities.
In 1998 the Kansas Legislature approved funding to provide a state-administered Early Head Start initiative. Kansas was the first state in the nation to fund Early Head Start modeled after the federal program. This initiative created a joint federal partnership with the federal Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its Region VII Kansas City Office. This partnership provides federal dollars for training and technical support to all KEHS programs and enhances the quality of child care services.
Kansas Early Head Start is a comprehensive program designed to meet the individual needs of each child and family. Program services include:
- Quality early education
- Parent education
- Comprehensive health and mental health services, including services to women before, during and after pregnancy
- Nutrition education
- Family support service
- Child care for parents who are employed, attending school or in a job training program
The Head Start Performance Standards provide specific quality standards for the provision of services. Kansas Early Head Start programs are required to involve parents and community representatives in all areas of the program. These areas include policy, program design, curriculum and management decisions.
KEHS offers children and families comprehensive services through weekly home visits and/or child care. Parents are partners in Early Head Start. Each KEHS program provides opportunities for parents to improve their parenting skills, knowledge and understanding of the educational and developmental needs of their children. KEHS offers parents opportunities for their own growth and support in identifying and meeting goals.
KEHS is a quality initiative that requires KEHS grantees to partner with community child care providers. Child care may also be provided in a center-based infant/toddler classroom operated by the Early Head Start grantee. KEHS programs may provide quality training to child care providers who partner with them.
About This Program
The intent of this initiative is to provide grants to local Head Start programs to serve pregnant women and infants and toddlers. Funding allows for 15 KEHS programs in 48 counties with 1,177 enrollment slots. The KEHS initiative seeks to increase the availability of child care for infants and toddlers and to increase the quality of child care for all Kansas children. All services are voluntary for families.
KEHS programs collaborate with various community partners to provide the highest level of services to children and families and maximize available resources. Community partners include: health departments; Part C services for children with disabilities; Parents as Teachers; and higher education institutions including community colleges and universities
KEHS is an evidence based prevention service. Outcomes for all KEHS programs include:
- Pregnant women and newborns thrive
- Infants and children thrive
- Children live in stable and supported families
- Children enter school ready to learn
All KEHS programs have met or exceeded the expected outcomes.
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