PICCA Head Start: Educating the whole child


PICCA logo.jpg

Pickaway County Community Action’s (PICCA) Head Start preschool program facilitates pre-kindergarten educational programming for area youth from birth up through five years of age.

A United Way of Pickaway County education partner, Head Start provides support services such as school readiness preparation, child development screenings and assessments, and nutrition/medical/parenting advisement to over 200 children, families, and prenatal women annually. Specifically, Head Start features three primary modes of support services:

  1. Full Day Infant/Toddler Center Care serves eight infants and toddlers in a classroom setting located in Circleville, Ohio.  The center hours of operation are 7:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday year around.  Teacher/Advocates use “Creative Curriculum” for classroom planning.
  2. Early Head Start Home Base provides pregnant women/teens and families with children ages birth to three with a 90 minute weekly home visit. Home Visitors use the “Parents as Teachers” curriculum and child development activities and parent activities along with opportunities for group socialization. Early Head Start provides pre-natal education and support while promoting healthy outcomes for pregnant women.
  3. Half-day and Full Day Head Start Preschool provides services to children, ages three to five, at locations in Circleville, Ashville and Williamsport.  Classes are in session Monday through Thursday for either 3 ½ hours each day or 7 hours a day during the school year.  Teachers and advocates use “Creative Curriculum” for classroom planning.

Providing the first instance of formalized education for toddlers is a tall order for any preschool program and one Head Start proudly takes to heart. To get a better idea of how the services the program provides comes together to help the whole child, we examine the real life enrollment of 3-year-old Kayden (name fabricated to preserve anonymity).

Kayden came to PICCA Head Start by way of the Pickaway County Educational Service Center as a referral for our program. By the time he walked through our doors on Ohio Street, he had already been expelled from two other kindergarten readiness programs for biting and hitting. PICCA Graphic

Statistically speaking, the Policy Statement on Expulsion and Suspension Policies in Early Childhood Settings identifies students who have been expelled as 10 times more likely to drop out of high school down the road, experience academic failure, and face incarceration compared to those who are not. Based on the research, Kayden was off to a troubled start to his young academic career stemming from his two prior dismissals from similar programs.

From the onset, PICCA provided Kayden and his family with access to a skilled behavioral specialist who assessed root causes of negative behavioral responses and established a tailored, learning plan to put Kayden in the best possible position to succeed in the program. Through this behavioral support plan, PICCA afforded Kayden with clear learning goals and constructed an individualized environment where he could build positive relationships with his peers and his teachers in achieving those goals.

As a result of that behavioral intervention based plan, the need for an occupational therapist was identified by his academic support team to work on sensory delays and cues. Beyond that, Kayden worked closely with his parents and PICCA support team to assess and adapt his learning goals to meet the needs of his sensory processing needs as to address the regulation of his emotions, classroom participation levels, and his ability to stay on task.

Kayden would go on to make great strides in his preschool career while at PICCA before enrolling in an area school to start his elementary career. Had it not been for PICCA Head Start, Kayden may have bounced in and out of other programs, further delaying his behavioral and academic development. Head Start’s contingent of highly qualified early childhood specialists and network of academic support resources provided Kayden and his family with precisely the right plan to achieve his learning goals, curb unwarranted behavior, and address skill gaps to ensure he was kindergarten ready.

Head Start is just one of the many partner agencies making a difference in the lives of children like Kayden through the United Way of Pickaway County and its board of trustees’ campaign efforts. Through locally sourced income streams the UWPC provides agencies with the means to operate within a capacity to help those in need -right here in Pickaway County.

For more information on the PICCA Head Start and Early Head Start programs visit their website here or to donate to support Pickaway County residents like Ellen visit the UWPC donation form here. 



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