CLEVELAND — Head Start and Early Head Start are government programs for low-income families, getting kids ready for school, starting as young as six weeks old. Right now in Cuyahoga County, Step Forward’s Head Start is urgently hiring to fill 100 vacancies, 86 of those in the classrooms.
“It is an educational program, it’s not daycare. Our teachers are teaching, we have curriculum,” said Dr. Thea Wilson, the Vice President of Children and Families.
The staffing shortages are resulting in closed classrooms and wait lists, she added.
If a Cuyahoga County family qualifies, they can access free pre-school and pre-K until their child goes into kindergarten.
At full staff, they could open another 24 classrooms, serving nearly 400 more children in Cuyahoga County.
Head Start mom Brittany Camp knows just how crucial that is.
“It’s amazing to know they’re safe in a clean, stable environment, and she learns every single day,” Brittany said.
Her 2-year-old daughter Bronxx is currently enrolled in Early Head Start; her son Brooklyn attended from age three until he graduated. Her children’s teachers, she said through tears, have made lasting, lifelong impacts.
“We love them, like family,” Brittany said. “They shaped his whole future.”
That lifelong impact is also felt by Miss Karen Smith. She started as a Head Start student at three years old, became a Head Start parent, then teacher, and now decades later, an assistant site administrator.
“It was beneficial for me — they paid for my schooling, and I stayed because it was something that I love. The kids, they make your day brighter,” Smith said.
That's right — they will pay for your schooling up to a bachelor’s degree if you choose to be a teacher with Head Start.
Salary ranges from $35,000 to $47,000 a year, and everyone received a $3 an hour raise in 2021, putting them well above $15 an hour.
“And we’re not just looking for warm bodies, we’re looking for people who have it in their heart to be able to work with young children successfully,” Wilson said.
She has been in early childhood education for 47 years. For her, and for every teacher we know, it’s the kids that keep them coming back.
“If you really are into this, you have the power to change the world. And that's why I’ve done it all these years,” Wilson said.
Head Start & Early Head Start in Cuyahoga County serve more than 2,000 children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old with 10 facilities.
If you are interested in applying for a position, you can click here or call the main office at 216-696-9077.
If you are interested in enrolling your child, you can click here.