Parents with children under age 5, who are diagnosed with a developmental delay or disability, can often find it difficult to get the services their child needs prior to kindergarten.

Southern Seven Head Start and area pre-K programs are holding their annual free community “Child Find” screening events to identify children, ages birth to 5, who require services and are enrolling in the programs for the 2021-22 school year.

These events are conducted as part of the Preschool for All (PFA) program, a high-quality program funded by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) that brings together qualified staff, a proven curriculum, and parent involvement to help prepare children for success in school. Screenings for children consist of game like activities and are conducted by Child and Family Connections.

Massac County families can contact the Metropolis Head Start at 524-5222 to enroll for 2021-2022. To enroll, parents/guardians will need the child’s certified birth certificate and proof of family income (one month of pay stubs or 2020 W2s or taxes).

In Illinois, the Child Find Project provides public awareness services as part of the comprehensive Child Find system. Child Find is a component of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that requires states to identify, locate and evaluate all children with disabilities, aged birth to 21, who are in need of early intervention or special education services. Head Start programs focus on children age birth to 5 years, while pre-K programs are for those children age 3 to 5.

“The goal of the Child Find Project is to educate the public about the importance of early intervention and early childhood special education services for eligible children as early as possible in their development,” explained Shawna Rhine, Southern Seven Health Department’s community outreach coordinator. “The project is in charge of the development and statewide dissemination of resources and service information to Illinois schools, early intervention providers, health care providers and the general public.”

Head Start is a comprehensive child development program, funded by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and serves families with young children ages birth to 5. Services include the areas of education, school readiness, social service, health and family involvement. Illinois State Pre-K is a preschool education program funded by the ISBE Early Childhood Block Grant Program and serves children ages 3 and 4 and is designed to improve school readiness through education and parent education services. Both programs are available at no cost to parents.

For more information about the community “Child Find” screening event in your area, contact Southern Seven Head Start at 618-634-2297.

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