Mid Florida Community Services, Inc. (MFCS), a community action agency granted the opportunity by the Federal Government to operate the Head Start/Early Head Start program in Hernando, Sumter and Volusia Counties, serves a total of 977 children. The Early Head Start Program serves a total of 272 children across Hernando and Volusia Counties. We also offer an Early Head Start Home-Based Program in Volusia County. The Home-Based Program serves 48 children. The home office is located in Brooksville, Florida in Hernando County.
Volusia County Head Start locations provide services from 8:00AM - 2:00PM, and Early Head Start locations provide services from 8:00AM - 4:00PM Monday through Friday. Volusia County sites follow Volusia County Schools’ schedule and have early release most Wednesdays, when children are dismissed at 1:00PM
Sumter County Head Start provides services from 8:00AM - 2:00PM, Monday through Friday.
Hernando County Head Start locations provide services from 8:30AM - 2:00PM, and Early Head Start locations provide services from 8:00AM - 4:00PM Monday through Friday.
Extended hours of care are available at select locations, on a limited basis for children and families with special needs and to children whose parents are employed, in school, or in job training. Please provide documentation to your Family Advocate for verification and approval. This is NOT a Head Start service, so additional paperwork must be completed to enroll in an extended day program. Families are provided this service on a first-come, first-served basis and a waiting list is maintained. Please ask your Family Advocate if extended day services are available at the site where your child is enrolled.
If the county government offices in your community close due to bad weather, MFCS centers will also close, unless you are notified otherwise. Please pay close attention to the radio or television for government office closings in your county. There may be times when an individual center is forced to evacuate due to bad weather, facility issues, etc. In this event, every effort will be made to contact each family directly.
MFCS Head Start/Early Head Start requests the cooperation of staff, parents, and the community it serves to safely operate and maintain security at all centers. All visitors are required to follow these safety guidelines:
In an effort to protect you and your children, MFCS, with full cooperation from local police and sheriff departments, strives to keep our centers drug and weapon free. Federal and state statutes prohibit the possession, distribution, or manufacturing of drugs within 1,000 feet of our centers and prohibit possessing or discharging weapons or firearms at a school-sponsored event or on school property.
All Head Start/Early Head Start centers are smoke-free. Smoking is prohibited in all indoor and outdoor spaces utilized by the program. Please refrain from smoking within sight of children, all parking lots, and while chaperoning on field trips. This policy will be strongly enforced.
There are no fees for children to attend Head Start. All events and activities are provided free of charge to the children and families in the program. Program policy states no staff member, volunteer or parent, can request money or donations from other staff members, volunteers, or parents. In an effort to avoid duplication of requests, any parent interested in asking for any type of donation from the community must discuss it with a staff member, who must obtain approval from the Director prior to making any official requests.
All personal items and clothing such as sweaters, jackets, backpacks, etc. should be marked with your child’s name. Head Start/Early Head Start staff are not responsible for any items that are lost or broken. When choosing clothes for your child to wear, please consider the following:
Within Head Start/Early Head Start, confidential information will only be shared with employees of Head Start who have a “need to know” in order to most appropriately and safely care for your child. Head Start/Early Head Start strives to protect everyone’s right of privacy so confidential and sensitive information about staff, other parents, or children will not be shared with parents. Parents have no right to know anything about other children, other parents or personal information about staff.
The Department of Children and Families requires that parents are notified of the disciplinary practices used by any child care facility. The practices are listed below for your reference.
There are different methods to stop disruptive behavior in children. Head Start/Early Head Start has provided training for our staff to help them foster positive behavior in children. The relationship between parent and child is critical. Regular communication and planning with parents/caregivers generally regulates the behavior.
Head Start/Early Head Start staff strive to build each child’s self-esteem, independence, and ability to socialize in a group. This is done, primarily, through developing a child’s self-control. All guidance techniques are based upon knowledge of child development and familiarity with the child. In our program we use non-punitive forms of discipline and guidance:
We urge you to share your talents, knowledge, time, and energy with us by volunteering.
Some examples of parent volunteer activities include:
In order to ensure the safety of the children in the program, parents, family, and community members will be asked to complete a short Volunteer Application each program year. Volunteer instructions will be provided to classroom volunteers during the enrollment process and during Volunteer/Chaperone training.
MFCS Head Start/Early Head Start program recognizes and supports the Office of Head Start’s (OHS) emphasis of school readiness for all of our children. School readiness for MFCS Head Start means that children are ready for school, families are ready to support their children’s learning, and schools are ready for children.
Head Start/Early Head Start believes children learn in an active learning environment where a variety of intentional experiences are provided. These play experiences focus on the five essential domains of child development and learning including, (1) language and literacy development, (2) cognition and general knowledge, (3) approaches toward learning, (4) physical well-being and motor development, and (5) social and emotional development.
The CDS provides oversight for each center for which they are responsible. They are the immediate supervisors of all the teaching staff and also assist other staff members assigned to their sites. The CDS ensures the education of your child meets all Head Start standards and the site follows all local, state and federal guidelines. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s education or center staff, the CDS is the first person to talk to. You should have the name of that person and their contact number written on page one of this handbook.
Your child’s developmental and school readiness skills are screened within the first forty-five (45) days of entry into the program. Results of the screening are shared with parents during the parent/teacher conference or home visit. If screening results identify a possible concern or risk factor, staff may request consent from the parent for classroom intervention and/or further evaluation. Please do not be concerned with this process. Although we make every effort to make the process as child-friendly as possible, sometimes children do not perform as well early in the school year if they are not yet comfortable with their surroundings.
All of our Head Start/Early Head Start classrooms are filled with children who have a wide range of abilities, and our teachers create an environment in which all children – those with or without disabilities – thrive. Our learning environments are designed to build upon children’s strengths and weaknesses, and help all of them, special needs or not, develop school readiness skills. By providing this quality learning environment, children with and without disabilities develop a greater appreciation of each other and of individual differences.
An ongoing assessment is conducted on your child throughout the program year utilizing the Galileo Online Child Assessment Instrument. This information gives teachers the ability to determine your child’s skill level and provides strategies to assist your child in the learning process. This information is shared with parents during home visits and parent conferences. Parents receive training on the use of the Galileo Instrument during Open House and are provided access to their child’s developmental progress.