World-class, innovative services, which go above and beyond standard program requirements

Our primary funding source, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, requires the provision of comprehensive services for children, including early education services, health and nutrition services, and services for children with special needs, as well as services to support and engage parents and families.  CVHS has a long history of operating a high quality program, and providing services which meet all federal, state and local regulations.  However, we are not content to stop there – our goal is to provide world-class, innovative services, above and beyond our standard program requirements, to meet the needs of children and families in northwest Vermont.  In this way, we work to maximize support for children and families to reach their full potential.

Several donors, sponsors and agencies have generously provided funding and/or technical assistance for CVHS Special Initiatives.  These Special Initiatives entail innovative, value-added services for children and families which go above and beyond the minimum requirements of Head Start.  Click on the following links to learn more about the following Special Initiatives:

Oral Health: The Tooth Tutor Program

Head Start programs work with families to assure that children have a regular dentist, are up-to-date on dental IMG_6657exams, and receive any needed treatment for any identified dental health issues.  Many Head Start programs encounter numerous challenges in this area, including concerns that children or parents may have about dental visits, families who do not always recognize the critical importance of early dental care for children, including baby teeth, and states such as Vermont which have a shortage of dentists.

To assist Vermont Head Start programs in making strides in this area, the Northeast Delta Dental Foundation generously provides special grant support for the Vermont Head Start / Early Head Start Tooth Tutor Dental Access Program.  With the Tooth Tutor Program, Vermont’s Head Start programs, including Champlain Valley Head Start, are able to contract with Registered Dental Hygienists (“Tooth Tutors”) who:

  • promote positive oral health practices for Head Start / Early Head Start children and families;
  • improve access to preventive oral health care for this population;
  • work with the dental community to better meet the needs of program participants; and
  • assure that program participants receive any needed follow up treatment to address oral health issues.

With generous, ongoing support from Northeast Delta Dental Foundation, the Vermont Head Start / Early Head Start Tooth Tutor Dental Access Program continues to be an overwhelming success, and numerous children have received expedited care for dental exams and, in some cases, for desperately needed oral treatment or surgery.  Please view the video below to see the Tooth Tutor program in action, and click here to read about one of our tremendous success stories.

Tooth Tutor Program from Sarah Antone on Vimeo.


Tobacco Cessation

Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.  Unfortunately, rates of tobacco use are relatively high among low-income adults, many of whom may also experience inadequate access to affordable prevention and cessation services.  The high prevalence of smoking in low-income families has a devastating impact on the health of the adult members of the families and on their children through exposure to secondhand smoke. IMG_6981 Secondhand smoke is a known cause of low birth weight, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, middle ear infection, and other diseases.  These ailments, attributable to children’s exposure to secondhand smoke, can also translate into missed days of school and lower educational achievement.  Additionally, the high cost of tobacco products depletes families’ economic resources, and contributes to increased family and societal healthcare costs.

With technical support and guidance from Truth Initiative (formerly American Legacy Foundation), Champlain Valley Head Start and other Head Start programs are participating in the Head Start Tobacco Cessation Initiative.  The Head Start Tobacco Cessation Initiative allows Head Start and public health organizations to achieve their shared objectives of improving health outcomes for Head Start children and families by reducing household tobacco use.

The three key elements of the Initiative are as follows:

  • Staff Training: Head Start staff members receive training in: basics of tobacco addiction and cessation; brief tobacco intervention skills; Motivational Interviewing (a collaborative, client-centered approach to exploring and resolving ambivalence, and to eliciting and strengthening motivation to make positive changes in one’s life); and understanding how to access local and state tobacco cessation services for successful referrals.
  • Systems Change: Head Start forms, such as Family Needs Assessments, are modified to better identify, refer, track and support family members who are tobacco users.
  • Partnership Development: Head Start programs develop partnerships with local and state cessation providers, such as State Health Departments, Tobacco Control Programs, and Quitlines, to support family members throughout the referral and quit process.

By providing tobacco cessation information, referral and support, Champlain Valley Head Start is working to improve the health of the families we serve, to protect children from the long-term, harmful effects of secondhand smoke, and to support children and families for health and success in school and throughout their lives.

NAMASTE: Support for New American Children and Families

The Champlain Valley region has experienced significant changes in demographics in the last two decades. In addition to having the highest population density of economically disadvantaged families and individuals in Vermont, IMG_6542Chittenden County is a resettlement site under the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program and home to a growing number of recent refugees and immigrants. In 2014, with a generous grant of $35,000 from the Hoehl Family Foundation, CVHS launched an effort to develop and implement innovative and collaborative models of service to better meet the needs of New American children and families living in Vermont and enrolled in Head Start. The CVHS New Americans and Supported Transition Elements (NAMASTE) project provides critical support in the form of professional, trained interpreters from Vermont Interpreting and Translating Services, a program of the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, to work directly with Head Start children, families and staff. Working in collaboration with other service providers, NAMASTE provides increased support for New American children and families in accessing critically-needed services such as mental health, housing, literacy, job training and targeted early education and intervention. The Hoehl Family Foundation has continued support for this wonderful project with a generous, multi-year grant of $108,949 to support NAMASTE through the 2017-2018 school year.

Early Learning Mentor Coach Project

In Fall 2010, as a result of a competitive grant process, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services awarded $225,000 to Champlain Valley Head Start for an Early Learning Mentor Coach (ELMC) project.  The project period ran from September 2010 through February 2012.

The ELMC project enabled CVHS to contract with four highly accomplished consultants, each with a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education or related education field, who served as Early Learning Mentor Coaches for the Franklin, Grand Isle, Chittenden and Addison County region.  Together, the Coaches worked to enhance the practice and professional development of 28 Head Start / Early Head Start teaching staff, seven Head Start / Early Head Start home visitors, and approximately 65 collaborative teaching staff at 21 Head Start / Early Head Start sites. The objectives of the project was for the Coaches:

  1. To improve the quality of CVHS teaching practices;
  2. To assist CVHS to promote positive, significant and sustained outcomes for children; and
  3. To promote career development for CVHS teaching staff.

As a result of this grant project, Coaches provided: ongoing classroom observations; follow-up reflection meetings with staff; individual and small group meetings regarding curriculum development, classroom environment and program organization; and one-on-one guidance around professional development and goal setting.  Through this support, CVHS and collaborative staff were enrolled in course work necessary for a Child Development Associate credential or advanced degree, VT Teacher re-licensure, and/or a second endorsement on an existing teaching license.  Additionally, Coaches were instrumental in significantly enhancing classroom environments, improving teacher-child interactions, and enhancing curriculum around language and literacy, with a focus on children’s school-readiness.

For the 2015-2016 school year, with limited financial resources, CVHS initiated a scaled down “re-boot” of the ELMC project, now named “Practice Based Coaching.” CVHS now seeks donors and sponsors to help sustain and expand this important initiative.