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Annual Report 2023

Head Start

Step Forward’s Head Start program is where young minds blossom into eager learners, ready to take on the adventure of kindergarten and beyond. When children reach the age of three, they step into a world of discovery and growth, guided by the nurturing hands of passionate teachers.

In Head Start, learning is not confined to the walls of a classroom; it’s an immersive experience that combines structured instruction with the joy of play. Through carefully crafted activities and interactive play, children develop the foundational skills they need to succeed in school and beyond. Every day is a new opportunity for exploration and learning, as each child is encouraged to embrace their natural curiosity and creativity.

Head Start is a holistic support system for children and their families. Each child receives individualized attention and care, with teachers providing personalized observations to ensure that every child’s unique needs are met. Beyond academics, Head Start also prioritizes the health and wellbeing of its students, offering comprehensive support including access to health, dental, and nutritional services.

Head Start is offered at Step Forward’s centers and extends its impact county-wide through partnerships with school districts and childcare centers.

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At the end of the 2023 school year, an average of

74%

74%

of Head Start students met or exceeded the expected skill level for regulating their own emotions and behaviors

At the end of the 2023 school year, an average of

87%

87%

of Head Start students met or exceeded the expected skill level when using appropriate conversational and communication skills

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Impact Highlight

Impact Highlight

Sharika's story:

As a Head Start parent and employee, Shamika Brown has had the unique perspective of experiencing Head Start from both sides. In 2023, she was celebrating her daughter’s recent transition from Head Start to kindergarten, had three children enrolled with Step Forward, and was expecting another baby.

Her son’s journey, in particular, was memorable. Shamika said he hadn’t spoken much initially, but that throughout his time at Head Start, she had watched him develop an understanding for new words and phrases.

“My son didn’t talk much before, but now, I can’t get him to be quiet!” she laughed. “Now, we have conversations like we’re both adults.”

Head Start’s impact on Shamika has extended beyond academics. She noted that Head Start has taught her children valuable life skills, such as following directions, maintaining a daily routine, and the importance of socialization with their peers and other adults.

“Head Start is essential for children’s learning and development,” she insisted. “It gives them the necessary tools and socialization to excel in school and beyond. I have seen it firsthand as a parent, and now as a Head Start Education Aide.”

1,256
children
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