The concept of Head Start originated in the early 1960s when many Americans, concerned about the well-being of low income preschool children, organized to seek legislation and funding to deal primarily with the developmental needs of those children who later participated in the program. These measures were necessary to ensure that all associated costs could be paid, that there would be consistency and uniformity in operations, and that all essential services would be provided. The first centers opened their doors as a summer program in July 1965.
Community Action Head Start began in the basement of a church located on Miccosukee Road. Louise B. Royal started out as the secretary/bookkeeper for the agency and in 1968 became the Head Start Director. She retired in June 2013. The current director is Laurie Gan Leiner.
It was felt that many children from impoverished families enter school with a lack of self-confidence and other negative feelings toward the school system. These attitudes, possibly, caused these children to fall behind and/or lose the desire to progress. Further, it was felt that situations such as these would only be compounded later in life.
The administering agency for the local Head Start Program is Capital Area Community Action Agency, Inc., a private, non-profit organization designed to seek out and eliminate the causes and conditions of poverty. As any other Community Action Program, Head Start strives to achieve Federal, State, and local involvement and participation. This type of partnership arrangement allows for a broad spectrum of the community to involve itself in solving a local problem that affects the nation.
The program is funded eighty percent (80%) by the United States Department of Health and Human Services with the remaining twenty percent (20%) being a local match requirement is met through volunteer services, cash donations, and donations of other goods.
Capital Area Community Action Agency’s Head Start program is celebrating 50 years of successfully providing quality school readiness services to preschool children. We offer pre-school and Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) services for 378 children between the ages of three and five at all seven centers. We have five centers in Leon County, one in Jefferson County and one in Franklin County; all devoted to promoting strong social, emotional, physical, and educational development of young children. Services are provided by full and part-time staff, contracted consultants and service providers and volunteers (including parents).
The local program currently serves two-hundred and ninety (290) children in five centers in Leon County, thirty-nine (39) children in Jefferson County and forty-nine (49) children in Franklin County. The centers are in operation from 7:30 A. M. – 2:00 P. M. (part-day) and 7:30 A. M. – 6:00 P.M. (full-day).
All centers are nationally accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and have the State’s Gold Seal Certification. The Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program (VPK) is offered at all centers.
To qualify, the child must be 3 or 4 years-old by September 1st, the family must meet the Federal income guidelines and they must reside in one of the three counties served.
To ensure that all three and four year old children that participate in Head Start enter school ready to learn.
Our Program Philosophy
All children can succeed if given the proper tools to learn and develop in a healthy way. By providing them with a variety of educational experiences in all domains of learning, we foster cognitive development as well as creativity and self-expression.
It is our mission that children and families become self-sufficient through the provision of comprehensive services which empower them, socially, emotionally, economically, and physically.