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Head Start / Early Head Start

Head Start Works!

Wabash Area Development, Inc. (WADI) Head Start/Early Head Start is a high quality Early Childhood program serving seven counties: Edwards, Gallatin, Hamilton, Saline, Wabash, Wayne and White. Our staff is family-focused—parents and teachers or home visitors work together to plan activities that support each child’s growth and well-being. Services are offered to meet the special needs of children with disabilities. Eligible families have children between the ages of birth and 5 years of age. Pregnant women are also encouraged to apply. Our focus is to serve families with limited income based on federal guidelines. All interested families are encouraged to apply. Staff will work with each family to determine eligibility.

Children participate in a variety of educational activities that encourage a love of learning and lifelong healthy habits. Children receive medical and dental care, have healthy meals and snacks, and enjoy creative play in safe settings, both at home or in the classroom. Head Start helps all children succeed. As a result, children get along with others, solve problems, and are more confident. The children also improve their listening and speaking skills. Children leave Head Start more prepared for kindergarten, excited about learning and ready to succeed.

WADI offers home based Head Start (ages 3-5 years) and Early Head Start (pre-natal to 3 years of age) services in all seven counties. Center based Head Start (ages 3-5 years) services are offered in Harrisburg, Mt. Carmel and Shawneetown.

Our Annual Report

Comprehensive Services

We work as a full-service support and development program offering services in four major areas, which make Head Start both unique and strong. These comprehensive services are the best way to address the entire well-being of every child in the program.

Parent Involvement

At WADI Head Start, we believe parents are their child’s first and most important teacher. We work with parents to strengthen their role as the primary decision makers for their children. Parents and staff work as partners. Parents also may take part in trainings and be involved in activities to help their families as well as the program. Parents help set policy for the Head Start program through representation on the parent advisory committee, the Policy Council.

Health and Nutrition

Physical and dental health screenings for children help families learn about their health needs and provide opportunities for follow-up care. Balanced and nutritious daily meals for children are served “family style” in a social setting in our centers. Home based families have a nutritious snack provided each week. Outside professionals work with staff as a resource in the areas of nutrition and behavior guidance. In Early Head Start staff assist pregnant women in their pre-natal care and education.

Early Childhood Education

All enrolled children take part in age appropriate activities to develop cognitive, social and emotional skills. When developed early, these skills encourage each child’s love of learning for a lifetime. Our program uses the High Scope Curriculum—a research based curriculum—for both center and home based learning. 

Community Services

Head Start links families with community resources to help meet their self-identified needs. As a part of WADI, Head Start staff is able to connect families to the agency’s many other programs. We also partner with other community agencies, such as public health, social services, libraries, etc. to offer families referrals for other services that will strengthen their self-reliance in meeting their family goals.

Together We Build Bright Futures!
For more information on Head Start visit your nearest WADI office or call 1-618-963-2387.
WADI is an Equal Opportunity Provider and Employer


The Mary Alice Buchanan Memorial Scholarship, sponsored by the Illinois Head Start Association, is awarded to any parent, former Head Start child, or staff member working towards completion of a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education.  The $750 education scholarship was awarded to Diana Vandergraph of Fairfield, a former Head Start child and a current WADI staff member. 

"Head Start has positively influenced my life in many ways.  Some of my earliest memories are of Head Start field trips, riding with my mom on the little yellow Head Start bus on our way to the pumpkin patch.  We were singing, "The Wheels of the Bus" loudly and laughing." 

Diana has recently completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education Administration with a GPA of 3.98 from Ashford University and will be graduating in May of 2011.  She is a substitute teacher for school age Sunday Class School, Toddler Teacher on Wednesday nights, and is the Vice President of Women's Ministries at the Fairfield Church of God.  She volunteers on Fridays at New Hope School. 

"I was enrolled in Head Start at the age of 3 because my mother understood the benefits of having a head start in my education and development and that the program involved the whole family.  I followed in my mother's footsteps, years later, and gladly enrolled both of my children in Head Start.  In 2007, our family proudly received the WADI Family of Distinction Award for Wayne County.  Later that same year, I began working as a Head Start Teacher where my goals of completing a four year degree in an early childhood field began."

"My husband and I had always planned to continue our education but we both worked minimum wage jobs and supporting a family and paying for school didn't seem like it could happen at the same time.  Together we decided, for our families and ourselves, that it was time to go back.  My husband completed his degree in 2009.  Although working full time, raising a family, and going to school is not easy, I have been on the Dean's List each semester."

Diana will be the first person in her family to have a four year degree.  She has been married to her husband, Aaron, for 11 years and they have two children, Hannah (9) and Levi (7).  Diana credits her success to the support and encouragement from family and friends.

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