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NHSA Initiative
A Year of Whole Health
Supporting all aspects of health for Head Start children, families, and staff
During the Year of Whole Health, each month was dedicated to a different health topic important to the Head Start field. Topic-specific webinars, blog posts, resources, and other tools were provided each month to support programs in their efforts to improve the health and wellness of all children, family, and staff in Head Start. Follow #HealthyHeadStart on social media for the latest updates from NHSA about this initiative.
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Supporting Fatherhood Engagement in June

A core tenet of Head Start is the firm belief that parent and family engagement is the key to improved child and family outcomes. When you support the whole family, you support the child’s ability to succeed in school and in life. NHSA dedicated this Year of Whole Health month to sharing ideas, resources, webinars, trainings, blogs, and other information to share father engagement strategies and learn how programs across the country celebrate their fathers and male family members throughout the year.

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Promoting Positive Mental Health in May

Mental health consultation is an essential strategy for improving the well-being of the children, families, and staff in Head Start programs everywhere. NHSA dedicated this Year of Whole Health month to sharing ideas, resources, webinars, trainings, blogs, and other information to help Head Start leaders incorporate innovative and successful strategies to promote positive mental health among children, families, and staff.

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Supporting Children with Special Needs in April

As classrooms continue to become more diverse, there is an increased need to address and embrace unique differences early in life to ensure all children are included in social and learning environments. Inclusion strategies in early childhood settings ensure the right of all children, regardless of their individual abilities, to participate and engage in learning, playing, and other activities that influence development. NHSA has dedicated this Year of Whole Health month to sharing these ideas, resources, webinars, trainings, blogs, and other information to help Head Start leaders incorporate innovative and successful strategies to include all children in play and learning environments.

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Promoting Resiliency After Traumatic Events in March

In recent years, our nation has had to endure devastating hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and other natural disasters that have threatened the well-being of children and families. Many children are forced to cope with traumatic events and loss at such a young age, drastically impacting their home and school environments as well as physical, mental, social, and emotional development. Head Start’s unique comprehensive services can help to provide support and care for those impacted while also building resilience strategies and coping mechanism to help children and families bounce back. NHSA dedicated this Year of Whole Health month to support the resiliency of young children and their families after traumatic events by sharing a webinar, resources, and tools to help.

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Supporting Children’s Dental and Oral Health in February

Oral health problems and tooth decay can impact overall health and development outcomes as well as academic success. If children are experiencing dental pain or tooth decay, they can have trouble eating, communicating, learning, and feeling confident. Head Start recognizes the impact that oral health in early childhood has on developmental outcomes as an adolescent and adult and prioritizes individual oral health hygiene to ensure all children are assisted in dental care every day. However, sometimes the right tools and resources are hard to find to help ensure all children and their families have access to high-quality oral health services. NHSA dedicated this Year of Whole Health month to support the oral and dental health of young children and their families by sharing a webinar, resources, and tools, to help your program promote high-quality oral health services to Head Start communities.

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Supporting the Head Start Workforce in January

A strong and supported early childhood workforce is critical to the health and development of future generations. Early childhood educators and caregivers are at the center of high quality early learning settings. While early childhood educators and caregivers dedicate their lives to building nurturing and safe environments for young children, current conditions in the workforce are not conducive to a supported and successful profession. That’s why NHSA dedicated this Year of Whole Health month to the Head Start teachers, caregivers, and staff who are directly responsible for progressing the Head Start model by serving the most vulnerable children and families with the highest quality services.

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Supporting Children with Challenging Behaviors in December

An estimated 1 in 5 children experiences a mental disorder in the United States each year. This is a critical public health concern that impacts healthy outcomes for children during vital stages of development. Children experiencing mental disorders often display certain behaviors like crying, aggression, defiance, and other challenging behaviors in the classroom and at home. It can be difficult to understand why the child may be displaying these behaviors and how we should respond appropriately to support the child’s unique needs. This month, NHSA provided resources and tools to help you to understand why children may display challenging behaviors and how to support children in an appropriate way to improve healthy outcomes.

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Supporting Families Experiencing Homelessness in November

Homelessness impacts millions of children each day. During the 2014-2015 school year, over 1.2 million or 1 in 20 children under 6 years old experienced homelessness in the United States. Children who lack stable home environments also experience strong threats to healthy development like hunger, poverty, and traumatic events. This instability and insecurity impacts the ability to attend and succeed in school and access adequate health services, leading to higher risks for developing physical and mental health problems. Children who experience homelessness desperately need more support and attention and NHSA is eager to spread awareness and resources. NHSA dedicated the month of November to sharing resources and trainings to support programs as they strive to improve the lives of children and families experiencing homelessness in their communities.

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Supporting Nutrition and Gardening in October

Head Start strives to provide all at-risk children with the support they need to reach their full potential in school and in life. Head Start recognizes good health and nutrition as the foundation of school readiness and child development and takes a comprehensive approach to supporting and promoting the health and well-being of children and families. This approach includes high-quality health and nutrition standards that are required to be culturally and developmentally appropriate, meet the nutritional needs of all individual children, follow the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and USDA recommendations, and served as family-style meals to promote staff-child interactions and healthy socialization. However, we believe there is untapped potential for garden projects in Head Start and Early Head Start programs which can further improve the health and development of children in vulnerable communities, where fresh foods are most scarce. This is why NHSA dedicated the month of October to sharing resources and trainings to support programs as they strive to improve nutrition and fresh food access to children and families in our communities.

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Supporting Families Impacted by the Opioid Epidemic in Sept.

In rural towns, inner-city neighborhoods, and everywhere in between, Head Start programs are utilizing their unique and influential position as a community-embedded provider of comprehensive services to treat children and families suffering from substance use disorders. Every day, Head Start programs are using limited existing resources or outside funding to develop new and innovative models specifically targeted toward early childhood trauma related to opioid and substance abuse. NHSA dedicated the month of September to sharing resources and supporting programs as they strive to help all children and families affected by substance abuse in general and opioid misuse specifically.

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