Murray Head Start is a federally funded program serving primarily low-income children and families in Western Kentucky. Children with disabilities are also eligible for Head Start services, regardless of income level. Through our Early Head Start and Head Start programs, services are provided to families beginning with the pregnant mother and continuing through age 4 and the child's transition to Kindergarten.
Murray Head Start serves the children and families of our region through partnerships with 11 local school districts, 2 universities, 2 local housing authorities, and a not-for-profit child care facility. These partnerships have enabled our program to provide many years of proven quality and innovative services to this area.
Murray Head Start began in 1965 by serving 23 preschool children during a summer program in Murray, Kentucky. The program was designed to provide a “Head Start” to low-income children as preparation for their entrance to Kindergarten. Over the years, the program has expanded to provide preschool services in the 8-county area of Western Kentucky, in partnership with 11 local school districts. The Murray Independent School District is the grantee for the program, and its Board of Education serves as our Governing Body. An elected Policy Council, consisting of parents and community representative from each of the 11 school districts and Early Head Start also provide governance and serve as a link to the parent committees in each center.
Head Start is not only a program for the preschool child, it is also a program for the family. Parents/Guardians are actively encouraged to participate in classroom and center activities, through volunteering in the classroom, or by attending parent meetings and social events. The philosophy that the parent is the first and most important teacher in a child's life is a guiding principle in our program. To this end, our qualified staff of family service professionals work with parents to determine family goals which can be identified and met through assistance, guidance, and/or possible referrals when necessary.
Health and nutrition services for children are another important aspect of our program. All children receive screenings in vision, hearing, dental, speech, and developmental areas when they are enrolled. Concerns that are identified as a result of these screenings, are then followed-up with treatments and/or referrals. While in class, children also receive meals and/or snacks which equal 2/3 of their daily nutritional requirements.
Disability and mental health services are also available to all enrolled children and their families. Educational preparation and success is a fundamental goal for Murray Head Start.