History of Head Start/Early Head Start

  • The District’s Head Start Program began as an eight-week summer program in 1965. Although the program was being offered in the elementary public schools, the Economic Opportunity Coordinating Group, a local community action agency was the selected grantee overseeing the program. In October of 1976, The School Board of Broward County, FL became the Head Start grantee offering services to 375 families. Over the years, the program has expanded to currently serve 2,040 Head Start and 80 Early Head Start families. Head Start classes follow the 180-day school calendar. The program’s hours of operation adhere to each elementary school’s hours. After school care information is available at all elementary school locations.

Program Services

  • Head Start Services and support

    Head Start/Early Head Start Services

    • Increase school readiness
    • Provide high-quality education to Birth-5 students
    • Enhance the knowledge and skills of Pre-K teachers, administrators, and support staff through strategic support
    • Support families in the early care and education of their child
    • Provide comprehensive services to children and their families
    • Expand the number of high-quality Pre-K programs/opportunities throughout the district

    All Head Start/Early Head Start students receive an array of comprehensive services while in the program.


    Education services are provided through daily classroom experiences that help to develop skills that are important for success in kindergarten.  Classrooms are organized to provide a variety of opportunities for children to explore, discover, and grow. There are routines and a daily schedule to structure the day. Head Start classrooms are communities where children learn how to get along with others, solve problems peacefully and learn the academic skills they need to be successful in school. Children are screened using a variety of developmental screening instruments.


    A child with disabilities can often learn more readily in a group with typically developing children rather than in a separate group for children with disabilities. The Head Start department works closely with the Exceptional Student Learning Services Department to provide the Least Restrictive Environment for each child.  Head Start staff members work closely with community agencies to provide services to meet the special needs of all children.

    Speech and Language Screening

    As part of the screening process, children in the Head Start classrooms will have a speech and language screening within the first 45 days of school. The screening will look at how the sounds that make up words are formed and the use of words to talk. If concerns are found, children are referred to the speech therapist at the school for a closer look.

    Mental Health

    Mental Health and Wellness Services are provided to Early Head Start and Head Start children. These services support positive social-emotional growth for young children and their families.  By engaging parents in program services, they are provided many opportunities to learn about mental and behavioral health.  A strong foundation of social and emotional skills will prepare children for school readiness.

    Mental Health and Wellness Services include:

    • General classroom observations
    • Conscious Discipline
    • Counseling and/or social skills groups
    • Parenting classes
    • Consultation with parents, guardians, and staff
    • Short-term family counseling
    • Referrals to community agencies
    • Information provided to families as appropriate
    • Staff training and wellness

    Health Services

    A Health Manager and two Health Parent Educators are available for any questions, concerns, or needs about your child’s health plan. 

    • Height and Weight
      Height and weight for each child is measured prior to the first 45 days of school.  Physical growth and development is monitored.
    • Hearing and Vision Screenings
    • Nutrition
      Your child will receive a nutritious breakfast, lunch, and snack during the school day. All meals served are low in fat, sugar, and sodium (salt) and follow the USDA Meal Pattern guidelines.  Monthly menus are available at each school and a copy of the menu is posted in your child’s classroom.  Nutrition educational activities are included in the classroom.

    Parents are not permitted to bring any food, (home-made or store bought), into the classroom (this includes for birthdays and holiday celebrations).  If your child has any food allergies or requires a medically prescribed diet, restrictions and/or supplements, please contact the Health Specialist assigned to your child’s classroom. Paperwork from your child’s doctor will be required for these special nutritional needs.

    • Good tooth care can protect your child’s precious smile! Tooth decay is the most common disease in children in the United States and it can easily be prevented. By encouraging good tooth-care habits now, you can help your child have healthy teeth for a lifetime. 

    Additional Health Services

    • Assisting families with finding a medical and dental home
    • Review of medical history and records to identify concerns
    • Offering health promotion and training opportunities for parents
    • Work with Medicaid and local agencies to determine child's eligibility for medical assistance

    Family and Community Services

    Family Services Support staff recruit and enroll families into Head Start and Early Head Start.  All families have wishes and dreams for themselves and their family members. The Family and Community staff work with each family individually to express and reach these goals. This partnership may include:

    • assisting families to connect with community resources
    • training on topics requested by parents including discipline, nutrition, and budgeting
    • connect families with community services including job fairs, English and GED classes, child care providers

    Family and Community Partnerships focus on parent engagement, including male involvement activities, family support services, case management, transition services, and partnerships with community agencies.

    Program Design and Management

    Responsibilities include Program Governance, Policy Council, Parent Committees, Management Systems and Procedures, Human Resource Management, Facilities, Materials, and Equipment. The Program Director works closely with the Policy Council in program design and management.


Children sitting together smiling


  • The mission of the Broward County Head Start Program is to provide high quality comprehensive services to low-income children and their families to ensure social competence.

    The mission of the Broward County Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Program is to provide high quality instruction to four-year-old children ensuring Kindergarten readiness.

History of Voluntary Prekindergarten

  • The District’s Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Program opened in 2005 following the 2002 Florida State legislation authorizing the creation of a free, statewide preschool program serving four-year-olds. The District’s VPK program initially began with a 3-hour program model at 15 schools serving students from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. The program has since expanded to provide full day classes as well as the original 3-hour model. State legislation mandates that all school systems offer VPK during the summer. During the Summer 2014, the District provided a full day VPK program (300 hours) to 150 students at 7 elementary school sites. Currently, the District serves over 1,300 students at 45 schools through a variety of VPK models during the school year.

  • (Download Adobe Acrobat Reader to view or print PDF)

    The Early Childhood Education Department houses the Head Start, Early Head Start, and Voluntary Prekindergarten programs. These programs provide early education opportunities and comprehensive services to students birth to 5-years old and their families.



Contact Information

  • Early Childhood Education

    600 SE Third Avenue

    Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301

    Phone: 754-321-1961

    Fax: --

    TTL: --

    Phone: --

    Sharonda Bailey


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