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