About Our Services
Significant positive changes in the lives of young children happen only when they and their families receive an array of services and opportunities that are individualized, strength-based and multi-faceted. Rutland County Head Start services are designed to address the many challenges faced by low-income families.
Education and Early Childhood Development
Children attending Rutland County Head Start are on the road to school readiness. Rutland County Head Start uses the Creative Curriculum® for Preschool, a comprehensive, scientifically based early childhood curriculum. The Creative Curriculum® addresses goals in the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework and serves as a guide for staff in the provision of materials and activities to support children's goals. The Creative Curriculum® is linked with Teaching Strategies GOLD™, which uses Development and Learning Progressions that research has identified as being the most predictive of school success.
The Teaching Strategies GOLD™ assessment system is a seamless, observation-based assessment system that blends ongoing, authentic assessment in all areas of development and learning with intentional, focused performance assessment tasks for selected predictors of school readiness. Teaching Strategies GOLD™ is inclusive of children with developmental delays and disabilities, children who are English-language or dual-language learners, and children who are advanced learners.
Rutland County Head Start also works with all school districts in Rutland County to enhance the transition procedure for children entering kindergarten. This includes coordinating visits to the child's new school and visits by the school to the child's Head Start classroom. Head Start teachers meet with public school kindergarten teachers to exchange child portfolios and discuss the child's preschool experience.
Healthy children are more successful in school. We work intensively with families to ensure that all children have an ongoing source of continuous medical and dental care and are up to date on a schedule of age-appropriate preventive and primary health care.
RCHS works closely with several consultants, which include a pediatrician, nutritionist, and dental hygienist, to deliver comprehensive health support programming. Our Health Advisory Committee brings members of the local health community together to discuss policies and ways to improve the delivery of health support services to families.
Preventive family health care information is obtained at registration and throughout the child's participation in Rutland County Head Start. Using a comprehensive web-based management system, we monitor numerous health data which include:
Nutrition History, Growth Chart and Body Mass Index
Dental Care and Treatment
Physical Care, Treatment and Chronic Conditions
In addition to assuring participation in a schedule of well-child care, we assess each child to identify any new or recurring medical, dental or developmental concerns so that timely referrals are made.
RCHS offers a high quality food program where children learn about healthy food choices and eat nutritious meals together in a family-style setting. Our nutrition consultant delivers extensive trainings in child nutrition, food safety, special dietary requirements, serving sizes, and meal preparation. All foods served are high in nutrients and low in fat, sugar and salt.
Disabilities (Special Education) Services
Congress mandated that children with disabilities comprise at least 10 percent of Head Start enrollment. Because of our comprehensive services, RCHS is able to serve a much higher percentage of children with special needs in its inclusionary classrooms. Shortly after enrollment, all children are screened for developmental delays and for any social and emotional development issues. Referrals to appropriate professional providers are made if any concerns are raised during the screenings. RCHS has strong working relationships with all Rutland County school districts, Children's Integrated Services (CIS), the Vermont Department of Health, and other disability professionals. Disabilities programming is integrated into each classroom so that all children benefit from inclusionary instruction and intervention.
Mental Health Services
The need for mental health support services continues to grow as multiple stressors are at play for many low-income families. RCHS children benefit from the strong relationship with our affiliated agency, Rutland Mental Health Services. RMHS provides Case Management and Clinical Services to children and families enrolled in our program. Case Managers work with children and families who are experiencing difficulties such as divorce, substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental health issues. Case Management services are provided both in the home and in the classroom. RMHS Clinicians also offer individual therapy when needed for children and families receiving Case Management services. Additionally, RMHS Therapeutic Support Specialists work on a daily basis in Meadow Street classrooms with children who have significant behavioral difficulties. RMHS consultants educate, train and coach the early childhood staff to help them gain the skills they must have to effectively concentrate on children's social and emotional needs.
Family Services and Community Outreach
Rutland County Head Start supports the belief that parents are their child's first and most important teacher. Families are given a variety of opportunities to be involved in their child's preschool experience. Parents participate in a minimum of two teacher home visits, two parent-teacher conferences and several family services home visits. Home visits and other opportunities for collaboration allow us to gather a holistic picture of the children. Partnerships between staff and families are grounded in an exploration of families' immediate concerns and interests. For some families, this will mean first focusing on urgent needs related to food and shelter or health and safety. Family Services staff provide resources, referrals and support, and work with other community agencies to support the family. Parents have various volunteer opportunities to help in the classroom, on field trips, and on projects at home. Parent Committee meetings are held at each site, giving parents the opportunity for input into their child's preschool experience. Rutland County Head Start develops networks that link available resources within the community to the needs of parents and children.
Childcare services are available at our Meadow Street center before and after Head Start hours and on days when Head Start is closed, including the summer. Our Childcare program is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and has been awarded 5-STARS from the Vermont Child Development Division.