Head Start services are provided to 160 children (ages 3-5) in Gulf, Calhoun, Liberty, Wakulla, and Madison Counties. Gulf County serves 40 children and Calhoun serves 20 children.

The Head Start Performance Standards are created to advance the primary goal of Head Start to increase social competence of children. Head Start defines social competence as promoting each child’s everyday effectiveness in dealing with his/her present environment and later responsibilities when beginning school. To truly foster social competence of low-income children, it would be essential to acknowledge the integrated nature of cognitive, social, emotional, and physical domains of child development with proper health care, nutrition, and mental health.

Head Start and Early Head Start understands that parents are the child’s first teachers. The program enrolls 10% of its enrollment with children with disabilities and 10% of the enrollment can be from over income families.

Head Start and Early Head Start bases its income level on the federal poverty level. NFCD, Inc. serves the lowest of the low income children within these counties.

The Head Start Performance Standards provide specific quality standards for EHS and HS services to pre-birth to age five. Major elements of the standards include early childhood development and health services, family and community partnerships, staffings, and program design and management. Head Start and EHS programs are required to involve parents and community representatives in all areas of the program, including policy, program design, curriculum, health, and management decisions. In order to meet the 1998 Reauthorization of the Head Start Act, Head Start and EHS is striving to ensure that 50% of staff has an associate or higher degree by September 2003. North Florida Child Development, Inc. has required all of its teaching staff to return to school and complete the degree program in Early Child Development.