CAAS Head Start has these goals for our families:
- Families will experience well-being. They will be safe, healthy and have increased financial security.
- Adult/child relationships will be positive and nurture children's learning and development.
- Parents and guardians will be lifelong educators of their children by observing, guiding, promoting and participating in the everyday learning of their children.
- Parents and guardians will continue to be learners, advancing their own learning through education, training, and other experiences that support parenting, careers, and life goals.
- Families will be engaged in transitions, especially to kindergarten, supporting and advocating for their children's learning and development.
- Families will be connected to other families and the community, forming connections that support well-being.
- Families will be advocates and leaders, participating in decision making, program policy development, or in community and state organizing activities to improve children's lives across the years.
Get involved with CAAS Head Start! Tell us your goals for your child. Visit your child’s classroom. Come to a workshop or a center meeting. Attend Classroom Visiting Day. Share a talent with us. Make time for conferences with your child’s teachers. Share your culture, language and personal history with us. Participate in an advisory group. Make time to share a book with your child. Set goals for yourself and let us help!
Family Resource Center
The Family Resource Center offers a variety of activities for families. The center is a safe and comfortable place for adults. Come in and meet other parents and guardians. You can use the computers with internet, sewing machines, and crafts materials. Or just have a cup of coffee. If you’re interested in visiting the center, call Ginger Sanders, Parent Resource Supervisor at 617 623 7370 x132. The center is at our main office at 66-70 Union Square, Somerville.
The Policy Council is a governing body which is made up of parents and guardians of children currently enrolled in the program. You can be part of it! Each Head Start classroom sends a representative to participate on the Policy Council. Other members of the Council are past parents, community people, representatives from local community agencies, and a member of the CAAS Board of Directors. The Policy Council is involved in the development of Head Start budgets, our work with other community agencies, the hiring of new staff, and assisting in the evaluation of our Head Start program. All parents are welcome to attend Policy Council meetings. Call Ginger Sanders, Parent Resource Supervisor at 617-401-6313 or 617-623-7370 x132 for more information.
Trainings and Groups for Families
The CAAS Head Start Program offers a variety of training opportunities for families throughout the program year. Parents and guardians are encouraged to come to workshops, trainings sessions and parenting groups. Head Start is not just a preschool program for children, it is also a program for the whole family. Every year, we offer a series of trainings to give parents and guardians the opportunity to learn more about children’s growth and development. This training helps participants become successful classroom volunteers. For information, please contact Maureen Villa at 617-623-7370 x151. If you have a child with special needs and would like support and information, contact Roberta McCluskey at 617-623-7370 x118. If you would like to explore the joys and challenges of being a parent with others, you may want to join our “Exploring Parenting” group. For more information contact Ginger Sanders 617-401-6313.
Family Partnerships — Working with your Family Advocate
You and your Family Advocate will discuss your family’s strengths, needs, and goals. Then you will develop a Family Partnership Agreement together. Your Family Advocate can help you find the resources and support for your goals. Family Advocates make at least two home visits during the program year to each family. Additional home visits may be arranged as necessary. Family Advocates are always available to help with any problems or concerns that you may have. Family Advocates can make referrals for your family to appropriate service providers. They will follow-up on those referrals to ensure that services have been received. Family Advocates want to work with you. They are committed to finding ways to communicate with you regularly. CAAS Head Start wants to hear from you!
Family Partnerships — Working with us for your child’s success
We can discuss your child’s progress and build connections between home and school during home visits and family/teacher conferences. Conferences are scheduled by the teachers in December, March and June. When teachers aren’t with the children, they can talk with you anytime. Let your child’s teachers know if you have concerns about your child’s development and learning. Share your goals for your child with CAAS Head Start. Teachers and advocates can suggest activities to do at home that will support your child’s development and learning. These will be fun activities you can do with your child. Teachers want to work with you. They are committed to finding ways to communicate with you regularly. CAAS Head Start wants to hear from you! All of the Head Start staff are here to help you, to listen to your concerns and goals, and to support you.
Reading and writing are an important part of the Head Start program. Every classroom has a book area with good children’s books and a “writing” center with materials for children to explore. Strong language skills are the foundation for early literacy. Talk with your children often. Talk about the activities in your home, what children do in school, and what’s happening in the city. Use lots of new vocabulary words in your home language. Find time to sit with your child and share a book—look at the pictures and talk about them! Ask us about using the public libraries. Library cards for borrowing books are free! Look for the Red or Blue book bags in your child’s classroom. They are for your family to borrow each week so that your home will have books for your child. We work with other community organizations to support literacy. They visit our program, read to our children, and donate books. Some of our partners are the Kiwanis Club of Somerville, the Somerville Neighborhood Foundation, the Cambridge Agenda for Children, the Harvard Readers, and the Jump Start Program.
If a family does not speak English, our staff, other parents, and community members will be utilized to interpret. We want all families to receive important communication in a way that is understandable and meaningful.
Parent and Guardian's Role and Responsibility
As a parent or guardian, you have the primary responsibility for your child. You are required to care for and supervise your child. You have the right to accept or reject any services offered to your child and your family.
CAAS Head Start requires parents and guardian to do the following:
- Your child needs a change of clothes in the classroom in case they get wet due to the weather, water play, or toileting accidents. This change of clothing should include socks and underwear.
- Labeling: It is very important that you label your child's clothes because it is impossible for teachers to distinguish each child’s things. Please label everything!
- Your child should wear play clothes to school because we use paints, glue, sand, and other messy materials. Sometimes these materials do not wash off clothing completely.
- Your child needs to wear closed shoes or sneakers to school. Sandals, flip flops, high heels, etc. are not safe in classrooms or at the playground.
- Your child needs to be appropriately dressed according to the weather. This includes hats and gloves or mittens during cold weather. Children go outside every day for 45 minutes, weather permitting, even in winter.
- Children must be brought into the classroom and signed in. Do not leave children outside the building.
Child Abuse: Mandated Reporting Policy
The CAAS Head Start Program is committed to the well-being and safety of children. Parent education and support are important factors in keeping children healthy and safe. By providing education and support, we hope to have a role in the prevention of child abuse and neglect. If abuse or neglect is suspected, the law requires a 51A report to the Department of Children and Families (DCF). All staff are mandated reporters. They are required to document and report any concerns to the Head Start Director of Family Services. Family Advocates, whenever possible, will talk with the parents before a report is made to DCF. CAAS Head Start’s goal is to work with the families to help them access services which will improve their lives. If a 51A report is filed against the program we are required to notify the State office of Early Care and Education and the Administration for Children and Families immediately.