Head Start

Head Start is a federal program for preschool children from low-income families.

Head Start helps all children succeed. Services are offered to meet the special needs of children with disabilities. Children between the ages of three and five years are eligible for Head Start. Head Start is comprised of a variety of educational activities. Staff also assist parents with medical and dental care, provide healthy meals and snacks, and supervise children playing indoors and outdoors in a safe setting.

Give Your Child a Head Start

Head Start staff members offer your child love, acceptance, understanding, and the opportunity to learn and experience success. Head Start children socialize with others, solve problems, and have experiences which help them become self-confident. The children also improve their listening and speaking skills. The children spend time in stimulating settings where they form good habits and enjoy playing with toys and working on tasks with classmates. Your child will leave Head Start more prepared for kindergarten, excited about learning, and ready to succeed.

Head Start Improved My Life!

Tyler Reike
“Everything I learned during my time in Head Start helped me as I grew up. I am and always will be a huge fan and supporter of the Head Start program.”
-Tyler Reike

Tyler Rieke’s first memory of attending Head Start was a trip to the dentist.

“I remember that we got to go across the street from our Head Start center and have our teeth checked and then choose a prize from the treasure chest,” says Tyler.

Growing up as an only child in a single-parent household, Tyler began attending Head Start after her mom and stepdad divorced. Her grandmother worked as a Head Start teacher for the Missouri Community Action of the Ozarks and helped her mom enroll Tyler in Head Start.

“Head Start improved my life,” says Tyler. “I attended the morning session of a half-day program in Cuba, MO. At Head Start, I learned about the concept of community. Our teachers would assign us to be lunch helpers or toy helpers and I took pride in fulfilling my responsibilities in these roles.”

While most of the children attending Head Start come from low-income homes, Tyler says she never felt like the Head Start program was for low-income kids. She recalls the experience as empowering and vital to her success in later life.

“Head Start is a high-quality program,” says Tyler. “In the program, we enjoyed field trips to local venues, healthy meals, opportunities to build good friendships, and a learning environment accessible to children of all abilities, cultural backgrounds, and economic statuses”.

Graduation from Head Start is a special memory for Tyler.

“The teachers made a big deal when we graduated from Head Start,” says Tyler. “Each child got to wear a graduation cap and gown, and families attended to celebrate the occasion. The experience was special.”

Head Start made attending preschool possible for Tyler. She credits the program for her future success in school.

After graduating high school, Tyler attended Stephens College, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Business. 

While an undergraduate student, Tyler recalls visiting her hometown Head Start to help deliver a lesson on recycling to the children there. Seeing the children respond positively to the opportunity to learn invigorated Tyler’s appreciation of the program. When she returned to Stephens, she helped her sorority organize a stuffed animal drive. The toys were donated to local Head Starts in Columbia for a reading buddy program.

After earning her undergraduate degree, Tyler went on to earn two Master’s degrees. She earned a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Stephens College and a Master’s in Education (M.Ed.) from Lincoln University.

Today, Tyler is the executive director for the Coalition Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV) in Fulton, MO. She credits her days as a Head Start kid in helping her to choose a career serving people in her community.

“Everything I learned during my time in Head Start helped me as I grew up,” Tyler says. “I am and always will be a huge fan and supporter of the Head Start program.”

Benefits of Head Start


Children are exposed to a variety of developmentally, age-appropriate activities through participation in a research-based curriculum. Children participate in a variety of activities that include: language, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, self-help, and problem-solving.


Each child receives comprehensive health screenings and physical and dental examinations. Appropriate follow-up is monitored as needed. Training for staff and families is also provided.


Children participate in nutrition experiences and are encouraged to try new foods that are balanced and served in a family-style setting. Nutrition training, counseling, and referrals are available for parents.

Social Services

Families are recruited by staff for the program and assist in identifying their strengths and goals. This component also promotes community support through agency collaboration to meet the needs of children.


Referrals are made for services and agency collaboration is common. Transitional activities provide for families entering Head Start and those children moving on to kindergarten.

Early Head Start

Early Head Start provides early, continuous, intensive, and comprehensive child development and family support services to low-income infants and toddlers under the age of three and their families, and pregnant women and their families.

Program Goals