Early Childhood

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Early Head Start

Early Head Start is a free, federally funded program designed to promote school readiness for low income, at-risk children and families.  Early Head Start serves pregnant women and families with children under age 3.

Happy little boy and girl in the park. Two African American children together in the garden.

Head Start

UDMO Early Childhood Programs are free, federally and state funded programs, designed to promote school readiness for low income, at-risk children and families. Head Start serves children ages 3 and 4.

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UDMO Early Childhood Programs are free federally and state funded programs serving pregnant women and children up to five years old and their families. Our programs offer comprehensive services through home and center-based options for low-income children and families throughout eight counties. These services include: education, family engagement, disabilities, health and nutrition. Our services and resources are designed to foster stable family relationships, enhance children’s well-being, and prepare children and families for kindergarten.

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UDMO Early Childhood Programs

Home-Based Option:

A Home-Base Teacher completes weekly visits in the child’s home and provides individualized learning opportunities. Play dates called socializations are offered two times per month for children and their parents. For Early Head Start call: Estherville (712-765-1058), Spencer (712-264-8859) and Storm Lake (712-732-1358).

Center-Based Option:

Education and child development services are delivered in a preschool classroom five full days. Early Head Start has centers in Estherville (712-765-1058), Spencer (712-264-8859) and Storm Lake (712-732-1358). 

For more information on all Head Start Center Based Programs call: (712) 859-3885 x1004 or (800) 245-6151 x1004.

What are the Benefits of the Early Childhood Programs?

  • The programs are free for pregnant women and children under the age of 5

  • Your child will be more prepared for kindergarten and excited to learn

  • Enhances child's cognitive, social and emotional development through center and home-based services

  • Safe and nurturing learning environments that promote children's growth in language, literacy and social and emotional development

  • Offers nutritious meals at the centers and nutritional activities for home-based

  • Dedicated qualified staff in early childhood

  • Offers health screens, referrals and resources, including prenatal education

  • Family engagement opportunities such has socializations, parent meetings and connecting families with referrals and resources

What is Required for Program Eligibility?

UDMO is an equal opportunity provider. Ninety-six percent of children enrolled are at or below 130% poverty guidelines. Ten percent of the enrollment opportunities are made available to children with disabilities or high needs whose income exceeds the 130% poverty guidelines. UDMO Head Start, Early Head Start & the Shared Visions programs must not deny placement on the basis of disability or its severity to any child when:

  1. The parents wish to enroll the child.
  2. The child meets the age and eligibility criteria.
  3. UDMO Early Childhood Programs are an appropriate placement according to the child's IEP or IFSP.
  4. The program has space to enroll more children.

Early Head Start is offered in the following counties:

  • Buena Vista
  • Clay
  • Emmet

Head Start is offered in the following counties:

  • Buena Vista
  • Clay
  • Dickinson
  • Emmet
  • O'Brien
  • Osceola
  • Palo Alto
  • Pocahontas

Eligibility is Based on:

  • AGE

    Early Head Start: Pregnant mothers and children under the age of three. 
    Head Start/Shared Visions: Children must be 3 or 4 before September 15.

  • INCOME

    At or below 130% of poverty guidelines.

    Automatically qualify with Public Assistance:  Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Family Investment Program (FIP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

  • DISABILITY

    Must have current IEP/IFSP showing documentation of UDMO Early Childhood Programs is appropriate placement.

  • FAMILY NEED OR CRISIS

    Family is homeless or the child is in foster care

    Automatically qualify with Public Assistance:  Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Family Investment Program (FIP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

What is Required to Apply for Services?

  • Complete an application

  • 12 months proof of income such as: Income Tax, W-2s or proof of TANF/FIP, SSI or Foster Care, Child Support, or Alimony

  • Child's Medicaid or insurance information (if available)

Where are the Head Start Centers Located?

Buena Vista

Alta Head Start
1009 S Main
Alta, IA 51002
712-200-1400

Storm Lake Early Childhood Center
525 Oates Street
Storm Lake, IA 50588
712-732-1358

Clay

UDMO Early Childhood Program
Jefferson 411 East 10th Street
Spencer, IA 51301
712-264-8855

Dickinson

Milford Head Start
1100 8th Street
Milford, IA 51351
712-339-1163

Emmet

Emmet County Head Start
315 North 6th Street
Estherville, IA 51334
712-765-1058

Estherville Early Head Start
214 W 2nd Ave N.
Estherville, IA 51334
712-298-4059/712-298-0315

O’Brien

HMS Head Start
400 3rd Street NW
Hartley, IA 51346
712-298-0420

Sheldon Head Start
109 N 18th Ave
Sheldon, IA 51201
712-291-1738

Osceola

Sibley Head Start
921 1st Street NE
Sibley, IA 51249
712-298-1241

Palo Alto

Iowa Lakes Head Start
3200 College Drive
Emmetsburg, IA 50536
712-852-5352

Pocahontas

Laurens/Marathon Early Childhood Program
300 W Garfield
Laurens, IA 50554
712-841-5000