Okaloosa County Comprehensive Head Start Child Development began in Okaloosa County in 1967 as a summer program. The program was originally managed by the Community Action Program (CAP). The CAP Agency closed its doors in 1976, which left the Head Start program without a sponsor. At that time, a group of concerned parents and community leaders applied to the federal government to become the sponsor of Okaloosa Head Start. In 1977, Okaloosa County Comprehensive Head Start Child Development, Inc. was established. The Early Head Start grant was awarded in September 1998. The program serves 257 Head Start and 64 Early Head Start children and families.
Okaloosa County Head Start/Early Head Start has eight centers. The centers are made available through ongoing partnerships between the agency and community and governmental agencies. The following locations and partners make the Head Start Program possible:
- McGriff Center (100 Head Start/16 Early Head Start children) partnered with the City of Fort Walton Beach for the facility and Okaloosa County for maintenance.
- Chester Pruitt Center (20 Head Start children) partnered with the City of Fort Walton Beach Parks and Recreation department.
- Niceville Center (40 Head Start children) partnered with the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church.
- Edney Center (60 Head Start/16 Early Head Start children) partnered with Okaloosa County for land use.
- Kennedy EHS Center (16 children), Lakeview EHS Center (16) and Bay Street Head Start Center (20 Children) partnered with the Crestview Housing Authority.
- Laurel Hill Center (17 Head Start children) partnered with the City of Laura Hill.
Okaloosa County Head Start participates in the state funded Voluntary Pre-kindergarten Program. The VPK program is designed to prepare four-year-olds for kindergarten and to help build the foundation for positive educational outcomes. The VPK program serves Head Start eligible children who turn four on or before September 1. The VPK option extends the children’s day by three hours. Children participating in the Head Start/VPK Program are scheduled from 8:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. VPK is offered at three locations, Edney Street (one class of 18 students), Niceville (one class of 18 students) and McGriff (two classes servicing 36 children). The VPK program pays for 540 hour of instructional time per school year.
Okaloosa County Head Start/Early Head Start employs over 75 staff full-time, part-time and substitute staff that ensures comprehensive services, such as early care and education, health services, mental health services, dental services and nutrition, are provided to the children and families.
To learn more about our mission and goal to provide the best child development okaloosa county has to offer, click on the link below for a full transcript of our 2008-2010 Strategic Plan.
2011-2013 Okaloosa Head Start Strategic Plan