The Aboriginal Head Start Initiative is intended to provide preschool readiness experiences for First Nations, Métis and Inuit children, with primary emphasis on children 3-5 years of age. A long term commitment is required to ensure that children who are enrolled in AHS will fully benefit from the programs and services offered. To reach those whom the program is intended for, AHS projects in Ontario will:
a) define their intake processes and define policies and procedures for recruitment, selection, notification and registration of participants;
b) include an assessment of the child’s needs through interviews with parents and children. This should include information gathering regarding the child’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development to ensure their needs can be met in a holistic fashion.
c) define selection criteria based on the following considerations:
- participants must be of Aboriginal ancestry;
- must be a minimum of two years of age;
- must be ready to begin potty learning (special needs children will be exempt);
- must be prepared to make a commitment to long-term participation.
d) The AHS Initiative is intended to focus primarily on children and families who are at-risk. Risk factors must be defined by each community and may include the following:
- income level;
- sole support families;
- children in care;
- drug, alcohol and substance abuse;
- contact with the criminal justice systems;
- children from high-risk areas;
- family violence;
- number of eligible children in the family ;
- children with disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorder, severe allergies;
- families living in isolation without extended family support and/or exposure to their Aboriginal roots and culture.