Services that focus on the "whole child" promote children's learning and development. There are specific health conditions that impact learning, which can be identified and treated early. If they are not addressed, children with these conditions may fall behind. Your management team, health manager, and Health Services Advisory Committee (HSAC) are responsible for creating a structure to assure the families with whom you work receive comprehensive health services. Your program will have an overall approach for services and individual agreements with community service providers. The home visitor works with each family to help track and assure that they have annual health, vision, hearing, behavioral, and developmental screening, as well as other services the family may need in order to meet their goals.
Programs have several tools to support all children's healthy development. Staff identify health conditions early through screening. Managers maintain a system that tracks referrals and monitors services, including follow-up plans. Everyone works together to plan, design, and implement services that meet the needs of all children. Together, these efforts can respond to these conditions and put children on track for school success. Read HSPPS 1302 Subpart D—Health Program Services for health services requirements.
Child health status and care, 45 CFR §1302.42, gives the requirement that "within 30 calendar days of receiving a home visit, program staff must consult with parents to determine whether each child has ongoing sources of continuous, accessible health care—provided by a health care professional that maintains the child's ongoing health record and is not primarily a source of emergency or urgent care—and health insurance coverage." If the child does not have a source of ongoing care or health insurance coverage, the program must assist the family in accessing a source of care and coverage as quickly as possible. See HSPPS 45 CFR §1302.42 for more requirements for ensuring up-to-date child health status.
Head Start programs may strive to use the World Health Organization definition of health:
"Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." – Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, June 19–22, 1946
To assure that families are receiving the health and developmental services they need, you must:
- Find out how families identify their health needs, what services they are receiving, how they view well child care and immunizations, how and when they use health care services, and if they have a medical home
- What might they talk to a health care provider about?
- What do they consider "health" to be?
- Promote health through anticipatory guidance, addressing topics like smoking in homes, wearing helmets, safe sleeping practices, and water safety
- Utilize your HSAC and community resources and partners; consider including partners that may be able to support health and developmental services, such as:
- Health clinics
- Oral health providers and clinics
- Mental health consultants, agencies, and community providers
- Drug and alcohol programs
- Local hospitals
- Labor and delivery/obstetric services
- Domestic violence programs and services
- Primary care doctors
- Pediatric practices
- Federal nutrition assistance programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Breastfeeding programs and organizations
- Housing, education, and job training
- Early intervention programs that serve children with disabilities
- Special education partners and community special education service providers (e.g., occupational, physical, speech, and language therapists)
- Child care partners or school systems as children transition into other settings
- Smoking cessation programs
- English-as-a-second-language programs
- General education development (GED) testing sites
- Local elementary schools and local education agencies
- Work with your program's health, nutrition, disabilities, and education coordinators
- Be familiar with any tools your program uses to track family needs
- Identify health education topics and connect families to needed information and services, including:
- Well-child visits
- Safety and injury prevention in the home and outdoors
- Oral health
- Daily health practices
Resource Type: Article
Last Updated: March 18, 2022