Our Beginnings | Today | Our Centers | Our Staff | Training


Our Beginnings

Knox County Head Start (KCHS) has served Knox County since 1965, providing comprehensive educational services focusing on school readiness and social-emotional growth; health, dental, and mental health services; services to children with disabilities; parent partnership and involvement; transportation; and daily nutritious meals.



KCHS was founded in 1965 as Kokosing Day Care Centers by a group of community members focused on the relatively new research about the positive results of early education for  children, especially for low-income children, and also attuned with President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. The first KCHS classes were held in the summer of 1965 at the Columbia School in Mount Vernon and a center was established in Danville in partnership with the American Legion by 1967.



Now, 50 years later, the local program continues to flourish and has grown to serve 500 children annually through Federal Head Start and Early Head Start funding, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services child care subsidy, and child care services. Support from the United Way of Knox County, The Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County, The Energy Cooperative Foundation, AEP, the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund, and community donations provide additional support.



KCHS thrives through its commitment to providing high quality services, and its recognition that parents are the first and most important teachers of their children. KCHS respects parents, and works in partnership with parents to see that children and families have access to available services in the County, to assist parents as they work to support their child in getting ready to succeed in school, and to encourage family progress toward self-sufficiency. KCHS is thankful for the support of the community in enabling the Agency to succeed.


Our Centers

Head Start centers are operated in partnership in Mount Vernon at the New Hope Early Education Center through support of the Knox County Board of Developmental Disabilities, in Danville at the Danville American Legion, in Centerburg with the support of the Centerburg Local Schools, in Fredericktown on the campus of the Fredericktown Schools former elementary school, and in the Gambier Child Care Center in partnership with Kenyon College and the Village of Gambier. Ownership of the Northgate Center in Mount Vernon, where the Agency has provided services since the early years of the program, was transferred to KCHS in 2004 through a quitclaim deed from the United States Department of Education. Acquisition of this property was made possible both by the Department of Education and the City of Mount Vernon. KCHS added full-day, full-year child care programming in 1998, and, in 2009, was awarded an Early Head Start grant to provide Early Head Start services to infants, toddlers, and pregnant women in Knox County.


Our Staff

The Agency’s employment has grown over the years to nearly 100 employees with the majority of employees holding an associate or bachelor’s degree. In the past five years, 12 employees have received their master’s, bachelor’s, or associate degree. KCHS exceeds the Head Start Act of 2007 standards for classroom quality in terms of the education and professional development of teachers. All classroom preschool teachers hold a minimum of an associate degree with 79% of them holding their bachelor or masters degree. All infant/toddler teachers hold at minimum a Child Development Associate’s credential, with 80% holding at least an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field.



KCHS prides itself in receiving one of the 10 National Head Start Center of Excellence grants. The Agency has been providing trainings throughout the National and Ohio Head Start communities and at the Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children (OAEYC) annual conferences. Since 2005, KCHS has provided a minimum of two six-week parenting training courses a year, along with three training seminars for expectant parents and parents of infants and toddlers annually. In 2011, KCHS piloted a six-hour healthy relationships training “Conscious Couples” to support parents in developing and maintaining healthy marital or partners relationships, and by extension to support healthy families. KCHS also piloted a parenting training for students in the GRADS program at the Knox County Career Center in 2011. KCHS is committed to continuing these successful trainings annually with the support of United Way of Knox County and the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund through the Knox County Family and Children First Council.

From our Families

You have done wonders

This is a wonderful place for learning and everyone there is beyond caring. My son has attended for 3 years now and I almost hate to see him leave to go into kindergarten. Thanks, Head Start... you have done wonders for Kylar!

Sheila Lambert
Mount Vernon, Ohio

Exceptional learning opportunities

The Gambier Child Care Center has truly partnered with us in the early education of our children. not only have they provided exceptional learning opportunists, but the staff has taken individual interest in our children and family and collaborated with us to ensure the kids' experiences at home and school are consistent. From creative field trips to consistent outdoor play, the kids are still allowed to be kids, while benefiting from the intentional planning of their teachers. The combination of care for our children and dedication to their physical, social, and emotional development has been invaluable to our family. We're confident that our kids are in the best possible hands at GCCC.

Jessica Ryals
Mount Vernon, Ohio

Forever grateful…

My experience with KCHS has been amazing. I was much more scared than Marleigh was when she started school; however, she came home with wonderful stories of what she had done each day, asking to go back tomorrow. My mind quickly relaxed as I realized she was truly in some of the best hands in Knox County. The staff has been very helpful with so much more than just Marleigh and her school work. They've been helpful to me on a personal level, helping me when I have problems in my everyday life. I will forever be grateful. Marleigh is well prepared for kindergarten and I am sure that her Head Start will show throughout her education.

Erika Kinney
Centerburg, Ohio

Both boys needed help…

My grandson is graduating from Head Start next week and is a totally different boy. He is confident, full of life, and not afraid of his own shadow any more. Head Start has taught him to be a child, and that he matters. His younger brother is now in the classroom and doing great. Both boys needed help in different areas. Head Start helped them to become thriving young boys that will do great things as they grow older.

Catherine Griffith
Centerburg, Ohio

I fell in love with Head Start!

When Tyra first enrolled, they completed the screenings and she failed the hearing screening. We got connected to the hearing clinic,a nd then from there to OSU. She has total hearing loss in her left ear. Without Head Start, I would never have known. The resources and support from agency staff were overwhelming. I fell in love with Head Start! My children began to show their leadership skills at Head Start. The staff nurtured this and allowed them to grow and be leaders. My children  are all very resilient and strong - and they learned the skills to create that foundation at KCHS. I believe in what Head Start is and the difference it makes in families' lives.

JoAnn Clark
Mount Vernon, Ohio

I recommend this school to anyone

Before starting at Fredericktown Head Start, Kaydenlee's attention span was very low. He could not sit still long enough to put a puzzle together or have a book read to him. He could not identify any animals on his puzzles. In the three months he has been in this school, I have seen a complete change in him. Kaydenlee enjoys going to school and likes his teachers. He can talk 100% better in the last three months. Kaydenlee will sit for long periods putting puzzles together, and playing with cars. I want to thank this wonderful staff at his school. Kaydenlee would not be doing as well as he is today without his teachers and aides. I recommend this school to anyone that may be in search for a preschool. My son is an example of what a good staff can do.

Judith Parrish
Mount Vernon, Ohio