Early Head Start
Located in the Early Learning Center in Schenectady, Early Head Start is a federally funded program for families who are pregnant or have children up to age 3. The program has both a home visiting component and a center-based classroom component. Program staff help parents with the changing needs of their child and family. Parents learn ways to help their child meet milestones, including helping ensure the child is healthy, developmentally on target, and ready for the world. School readiness, including literacy, is a major component of the Early Head Start program.
The Early Head Start program has 9 classrooms for 72 infants and toddlers in the center-based option. Each classroom is staffed with 2 highly trained and skilled teachers. In addition, 22 children are served with weekly visits by highly trained and skilled staff in the home-visiting option. Staff follow a developmentally appropriate curriculum both in the home and in the center to ensure that quality care and learning is achieved.
Families benefit from culturally respectful and inclusive services, as well as through partnerships with other area services providers. Early Head Start provides the following services:
- Mentoring and education around maternal and child health care, including prenatal, breast-feeding, immunizations, and lead screening
- Screenings and educational activities to evaluate children’s developmental needs with referrals when necessary for professional evaluation and, if deemed appropriate, intervention
- Assistance in acquiring adequate health services for the family, including physical, mental, dental, nutritional, vision, and auditory health services as needed
- Mentoring for parents regarding vocational goals and resources•Home-based families are encouraged to attend group socializations each month so parents and children can meet other parents and children of similar age
- Center-based care, 6.5 hours on weekdays at no cost to families
- Increased school readiness and early literacy skills•Increased positive interaction between parents and children
- Improved parental and child wellness and social connectedness
- Increased economic self-sufficiency
- Fewer incidents of child abuse and neglect
Pregnant women or families with children younger than age 3 whose parent(s) are living at or below poverty level in Schenectady County are eligible for services.
Neil Hellman Preschool
Neil Hellman Preschool is a multiservice early childhood center for children ages 3–5, which includes preschool special education, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social work services, preventative childcare with and without social work, psychological services, subsidized day care, and universal prekindergarten.
Program staff help parents evaluate and forecast their children’s developmental needs by employing screening and educational activities in the center. Children determined to have developmental or attachment deficits are referred for professional evaluation and, if deemed appropriate, intervention.
- Licensed practical nurse on site
- Day care, both self-paid and county subsidized
- Center is open from 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. with limited availability for 7:30 a.m.–8:00 a.m. care
- Two meals and one snack, prepared on site, served daily; a nutritionist reviews the menus and the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) oversees the kitchen and meal service
- Large gym and large fenced play areas on-site
- Special education services onsite including speech, physical therapy, occupational therapy, counseling, and social work
- Increased school readiness and early literacy skills
- Preschool special education services
- On-site health screenings and developmental screenings ensure needs are met
- Decreased out-of-home placements for preventative families
Children ages 3–5 can attend the preschool for $225 per week. Other families are referred through several local school districts and Schenectady County Department of Social Services.
For day care or universal prekindergarten services, call or visit the Early Learning Center, 125 Bigelow Avenue, Schenectady, 518.292.5510.
Special education and early intervention services are accessed through the school system or Health Department respectively, dependent on child’s age. Preventative child care and subsidized child care is accessed through Schenectady County Department of Social Services.