WACOG Head Start has nearly a three-decade
old history of providing comprehensive child and family
services in western Arizona, along the Colorado River,
in Yuma, La Paz and Mohave Counties. The service area
comprises a geographic region of approximately 24,000
square miles in primarily rural, oftentimes isolated
communities. Major income sources are agriculture,
tourism and the retail/trade service industries.
The national Head Start expansion effort of the late
80s, early 90s and in 2000 saw WACOG Head Start quintuple
its enrollment and open 18 additional sites. These
expansion opportunities allowed program administration
to begin providing child and family services in rural
and underdeveloped communities that hitherto had no
such services for their residents. Additionally, we
expanded the number of Head Start sites in communities
where the program was already well established but
needed to expand child/family services in underserved
areas of selected communities.
The program is now funded to provide services to
a minimum of 1,060 three and four year old children
and their families at 21 center sites throughout the
tri-county service area. The program serves a diverse
population in terms of culture, ethnicity and language(s).
WACOG Head Start has a long tradition and well-developed
system of delivering comprehensive and high quality
services designed to foster healthy development in
children. The program provides a range of individualized
services in the areas of education and early childhood
development, special education, medical, dental, mental
health, and nutrition and parent/family development.
Additionally, the entire range of services is responsive
and appropriate to each child and family’s development,
ethnic, cultural and linguistic heritage and experience.
The challenge of providing comprehensive child and
family services in non-served or underserved rural
communities is daunting. WACOG Head Start has been
the forerunner in establishing child development centers
in many of the communities within its tri-county service
area. WACOG Head Start, in concert with community
leaders, has established child/family centered programs
designed to provide services that will meet children’s
needs and to offer opportunities to adults that leads
to family involvement, improved literacy skills, job
training skills and self-sufficiency.
WACOG Head Start does this by cultivating community
partnerships. Through establishing meaningful networks
with community agencies and organizations focused
on early childhood development, family support, education
and health, WACOG Head Start ensures children and
families receive a broad spectrum of individualized
services and that community resources are efficiently
and effectively utilized.
The program began working toward having all centers
NAEYC-accredited in 1999 in order to ensure continued
quality and to stay current with developmentally appropriate
best practices. At this time, 16 of the 21 centers
are NAEYC-accredited. The remaining five centers are
Central program administration is located in Yuma,
Arizona and additional administrative staff is located
in Kingman, Arizona (Mohave County). The central office
houses the Head Start Director, Program Specialist,
and Content Area Specialists for Child Development
Services, Disability Services, Family Development
Services, Health Services and Nutrition Services;
as well as the Area Manager for Yuma and La Paz Counties.
The Program Manager, Mohave County Area Manager, Family
Development Services Assistant and Health Services
Assistant are housed in Kingman.