Cattaraugus and Wyoming Counties Project Head Start has openings for its full day 5-day center based preschool programs for children who are three to five years of age, along with the home-based Early Head Start program serving pregnant woman and children from birth to age 3. Project Head Start is a free federally funded, full day, child development program.
Head Start has 17 classrooms at seven locations in Cattaraugus (Olean, Salamanca, Franklinville and Delevan) and Wyoming (Warsaw) Counties. Head Start, in collaboration with school districts in Franklinville, Hinsdale, Olean, and Salamanca, also has openings in its Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) classrooms for children who turn four years of age by December 1. Head Start’s UPK classrooms are located at East View and Washington West Elementary schools in Olean, at the Elm Street location in Olean, at the Salamanca Center in Salamanca and at Franklinville Elementary School in Franklinville. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, class sizes have been reduced, and children spend the day with the same group of children throughout the day as part of Head Start’s overall Safety Plan.
Early Head Start’s home-based program serves Cattaraugus and Wyoming Counties, providing weekly home visits throughout the year. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, visits are currently being held in open spaced environments or virtually through other forms of communication. Early Head Start hosts group socializations 22 times a year which are currently held virtually. Early Head Start implements the Parents as Teachers curriculum, which uses family-friendly activities and resources that engage families in children’s learning.
Head Start and Early Head Start programs are child focused programs with the overall goal of increasing the school readiness of young children. Head Start’s mission is to empower families’ well-being while nurturing and educating children for school and life. Enrollment is open to all children of Cattaraugus or Wyoming counties regardless of race, sex, creed, color, national origin or disabling conditions, whose family income falls within the federal poverty guidelines. Provided all income eligible children are enrolled, children of non-low-income families who are experiencing various severe hardships such as disabilities may also be eligible. Children and families who are homeless, in foster care, or receive TANF or SSI are also eligible for services. Eligibility is determined by program staff, and some families may be eligible for services if they are determined to be at or below federal poverty level.
The classrooms use the HighScope Curriculum which is tailored to meet the individual needs of children and the PEDALS program which helps children learn social and emotional skills that are needed to succeed in their classrooms. Other programs include Cavity Free Kids Program and the R.E.A.D.Y. Bed Time Routine which teaches the importance of sleep and regular bed times.
Ira Katzenstein, CEO-Head Start Director of the program, which is headquartered in Olean, said, “We have been busy for months preparing Head Start for the return of our students in these unprecedented times. The COVID 19 pandemic has forced us all out of our comfort zone and out of the routine that we were accustomed to. Our main concern is the health and safety of the children and employees.” “Anyone is welcome to visit our website for more information regarding our program and re-opening plan at www.headstartnetwork.com,” said Katzenstein. “We understand that the COVID19 Pandemic has created hardships for many families,” he said, “and we remain committed to doing everything we can to assist families this school year.”
All of the program’s locations are accredited through NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children). The NAEYC Early Learning Program Accreditation aims to ensure the quality of children’s daily experiences in early learning programs and to promote positive child outcomes. Any interested family should call the main office in Olean for an application at 716-373-2447 or apply online at headstartnetwork.com.