In 1965, the Office of Economic Opportunity launched Project Head Start as an eight-week summer program. Head Start was part of the War on Poverty, which embodied a basic belief in education as the solution to poverty. Head Start was designed to help break the “cycle of poverty” by providing preschool children of low income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional, and psychological needs. At that time, part of the new government thinking on the nature of poverty and the uses of education, and born of the civil-rights movement, was that the government was obligated to help disadvantaged groups in order to compensate for inequality in social or economic conditions. The concept of “maximum feasible participation” represented a new philosophy in federal government that low income people should help plan and run their own programs. Education, child development specialists, community leaders, and parents enthusiastically received Head Start across the nation and recruited children age three to school entry age.
In 1969, Head Start was transferred from the Office of Economic Opportunity to the Office of Child Development in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. It has now become a program within the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Head Start serves many American Indian, migrant farm worker, urban and rural children and families in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Pacific Insular Areas.
OFB Head Start (OFBHS) is an early childhood program serving low-income children in the rural communities of Broome County.
OFBHS began as one of a number of anti-poverty programs under the CAP of Opportunities for Broome, Inc. (OFB) in 1981. We began with two classrooms in the basement of an Endicott church. Over the past twenty four years these two classrooms have grown to fifteen classrooms in four Head Start centers located in Harpursville, Endicott, Whitney Point and Windsor. We serve the school districts of Chenango Forks, Chenango Bridge, Deposit, Harpursville, Maine-Endwell, Union-Endicott, Vestal, Whitney Point, and Windsor.
The programs offered to our families include part day Head Start and Universal Pre-K classes. Collaborations with school district operated Universal Pre-K programs in our centers allow children to access full day programming, at no cost to their families. In addition, our Endicott Center is with The Handicapped Children’s Association, who provides integrated placement for special needs children. These wonderful classrooms give children with special needs the opportunity to learn alongside their more able peers, who in turn, learn from them.
We serve low income pre-school children ages 3-5. It is our hope that soon we will also be able to serve the infant/ toddler/expectant mom population, bringing the Head Start philosophy, experience and support to families even sooner.