Promising Practices Program

Administering Organization

Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties

Program Name

Head Start & Early Head Start

Program Objectives and Unique Needs Addressed

Head Start and Early Head Start are comprehensive child development, health and social service programs for low-income families. Since 1965, Head Start has been serving the needs of disadvantaged infants, children, and pregnant women across America.

Over 1,400 children, from prenatal through age 5, are enrolled in Community Action's programs each year throughout Ramsey County. Options include full-day, half-day, therapeutic, and inclusion classrooms, and home-visiting programs.  

Community Action Head Start/Early Head Start's mission is to help children and parents achieve their full potential through high-quality child development and family support services. 

Approximately 60% of the children served in Head Start and Early Head Start have a home language other than English.  The families served come from diverse ethnic, national and linguistic backgrounds.  In addition to English, families in the program speak approximately 30 other languages with the top 5 being: 

  • Karen
  • Spanish
  • Somali
  • Hmong
  • Oromo

Program Description

The prenatal to age 3 program, called Early Head Start, offers a home-based design for families. Early Head Start Home Visitors meet regularly with parents and children to nurture child development and parenting skills.

Head Start children between the ages of 3 to 5 attend center-based programming. Classes are offered in either half-day or full-day options at centers conveniently located throughout Ramsey County. Nine centers operate half-day classes, 4 days a week from September through late May. A full-day, full-year option is also available at the Bigelow Head Start Center, or through partnership contracts with community childcare facilities.

Resource Materials Used in Program

The "Creative Curriculum" is used for Head Start and Early Head Start.  Florida State University's "Partners for a Healthy Baby" is also used in Early Head Start.

In addition, staff use a variety of resources to help English-Language Learning families learn English.  Each home visitor is provided a copy of "Taking Off: Beginning English" by Susan Hancock Fesler and Christy M. Newman to facilitate English learning for parents on home visits.

Groups Served by Program

Community Action Head Start and Early Head Start offers center and home-based services for children from birth to age 5, special needs children from birth to age 5, pregnant women, and their families. To be eligible for the services, the family's income is evaluated using the annual Federal Poverty Guidelines and families must reside in Ramsey County.

If a child is homeless, a foster child, living with a family receiving MFIP (cash grant or childcare assistance) or receiving Supplemental Security Income, they are eligible for Head Start/Early Head Start services. Head Start/Early Head Start consider many factors when determining program eligibility, including a variety of physical and environment needs.  In addition to environmental factors regarding family situation, homelessnes, social and economic resources, the program also considers whether families have been in the U.S. less than two years, and whether a language other than English is spoken in the home. The totality of assessed health, special needs and environmental factors Is used to determine program enrollment priority on waiting lists. 

Additionally, at least 10% of all Head Start and Early Head Start enrollment opportunities must be available to children with disabilities who are eligible for Part C services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in Minnesota. 

For Head Start's full-day program option, a child-care subsidy is required.

Program Funding

Federal: Office of Head Start, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Department of Agriculture

State: Minnesota Department of Education 

Private: United Way funding, which helps to cover some translation expenses

Program Staffing and Required Staff Training

Classroom and center staff include: center manager, teachers, assistant teachers, bus monitors and classroom aides, bus drivers, administrative support, cooks and dietary supervisor, mental health and disabilities coordinator, family service manager, family advocates and registered nurses.  

Home-based staff include: home visitors, who play the role of teacher and family advocate, Early Head Start coordinator, EHS registered nurse, and 2 family advocates, with one specifically for Karen families.   

Approximately 30% of HS/EHS staff speak a language in addition to English. Eight out of 15 home visitors are at least bi-lingual speaking: Burmese, Hmong, Karen, Somali, Spanish, and Thai.

Program Evaluation

We use Teaching Strategies GOLD to evaluate developmental progress in children and track school readiness outcomes.  

Program Outcomes

School readiness goals have been established in five domains: Social and Emotional Development, Approaches to Learning, Language and Literacy, Cognitive and General Knowledge, and Physical Development and Health. Progress towards these goals is measured using a standardized observation tool through indicators to relate to the set goals. Children are assessed on an ongoing basis with reports run at quarterly check points to assess progress. In addition, health outcomes are tracked and documented as recommended by Early & Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT).  

Additional Comments

Ramsey County and the City of St. Paul have a diverse community with many refugee and immigrant populations.  Below are some ways this program supports the needs of those populations.

Staffing:  CAP seeks to hire staff from the populations served.  When families from a new ethnic community enter the program, we hire staff from within those ethnic communities.  Staff may be hired for a variety of positions such as bus monitors/classroom aides, teachers, home visitors, cooks, etc.  Tuition assistance is offered to staff so that they may advance further within the agency.  Parent volunteers are important to our program and many of our volunteers are hired by the agency. 

Environment:  We create a welcoming environment for families by displaying items from various cultures in our classrooms as well as pictures that reflect the families we serve.  Items in classrooms are labeled in multiple languages.  We ask families for input on our programming including our menus.  Families have contributed recipes that we use in our centers and for group events.   

Content/Materials:  We translate as many materials for families as we can.  We hire interpreters when needed if there is not a staff person available to meet the language needs of the family.  We encourage families to use their home language at home with their children.  We address themes of interest to refugees as suggested or brought up by them at our group events and in home visits.  Some of these include: home safety, working with landlords, making minor home repairs, getting a driver's license, winter survival, etc.  Staff learn from the families including frequently used words in their languages, cultural games for children, etc. and use them in our classrooms and on home visits.   

Transportation/Location:  We know that transportation is a huge barrier for families in our community.  We provide transportation to all of our part-day classrooms, and to many of our family events.  Although transportation is costly, we make it a priority so that we can meet the needs of our families.

Program Contact

Deb Moses
Head Start & Early Head Start Director
(651) 603-5993

Julie Hickok
Early Head Start Coordinator
(651) 603-5902   

Enrollment Hotline: 651-603-5977

Program Dates

Community Action Partnership of Ramsey & Washington Counties was established in 1964 as a program of the War on Poverty.  Early Head Start was added in 1995 and both Head Start and Early Head Start are still operating as of 2013.