Head Start in Pittsburgh

Julia Varholla stepped into a Head Start classroom on Pittsburgh’s South Side at age three and began her journey to becoming an attorney with a downtown law firm.

Amy Walker, a senior quality engineer for Tyco Electronics, took her first step to that career when she attended Head Start in Natrona – initially in the home-based program at age three, then in the classroom with other students from families facing financial or other challenges.
Sara Kichta was also three when she started Head Start on the South Side and got on the educational path that would lead her to a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in education and a position as a counselor at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.
These three young women all say Head Start made the difference in their lives. They are among the more than 92,000 local children who have benefited from a free Head Start education since the program began in 1965. 
Now even more local kids can have the Head Start opportunity to success.
The Pittsburgh region’s children and the local economy are getting a $1.86 million boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as the federal stimulus package invests in the Head Start programs that serve families in Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh. 
According to Blair Hyatt, executive director of the Pennsylvania Head Start Association the funds will be used to improve the quality of local Head Start programs. These funds allow local providers to strengthen early education opportunities for qualifying families by providing professional development training to Head Start employees, improving transportation systems, purchasing computers and educational software, opening new classrooms and renovating buildings.
Head Start is a national program with three local providers including the Pittsburgh Public Schools, the Allegheny County/Allegheny Intermediate Unit and the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center (COTRAIC). Head Start promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through education, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families. The program engages parents in their children’s learning and helps them in making progress toward their educational, literacy and employment goals.
There are currently more than 4,000 children in Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh enrolled in Head Start. For more information or to enroll a child, parents can call 1-866-214-KIDS (5437).