Head Start

Head Start is a federally funded early childhood program that serves children ages 3-5.  The program is a comprehensive preschool program that includes the following services:

  • Education
  • Family Support
  • Health Services
  • Disability Services
  • Mental Health Support

What makes Head Start different from other preschool programs is that we focus on the whole family and child to help ensure that each child has the tools needed to be successful in a school setting and will be ready for Kindergarten.  Different program options are available to ensure a good fit for each child.



2021-2022 Annual Report
Head Start Application

Application for Enrollment for the 2024-2025 School Year

If you are interested in enrolling your child in our program for the 2023-2024 school year, please reach out to Katey Koutsky, Enrollment and Office Coordinator, at 218.999.0814. If you need help filling out the application, please reach out to our office staff and they will be happy to assist you on completing the application.  Once your application has been processed, we will place you on our waitlist and contact you once your child’s name comes up on the list.

Head Start Application

Children between the ages of 3 to 5 in Itasca and Koochiching Counties are eligible for the Head Start program.

There is no cost to families.

KOOTASCA provides all learning materials and supplies. Some children may choose to bring a backpack to carry their papers.

  • Four days per week: (Monday-Thursday) classrooms are in session September through May and typically run from 8:30 AM- 2:30 PM.
  • Five days per week: (Monday-Friday) classrooms are in session September through May and typically run from 8:30 AM– 2:30 PM.
  • Extended day services: Available in some areas with childcare before and after class starting at 7;00 am and ending at 5:00 pm.
  • Summer sessions: summer programming is available in some areas and schedules vary. Please contact us for more details.

KOOTASCA Head Start implements only research-based, proven-effective curriculum elements in its classrooms.  Here are the curriculums that the program uses: Creative Curriculum, Second Step, and Baby Doll Circle Time.  Creative Curriculum cycles through study topics throughout the year, exploring areas of study through high quality books, teacher-led large and small group activities, child-selected activities, and intentional, supported play. Second Step (Preschool social/emotional curriculum) uses puppets, role play, small group activities, and classroom discussions to promote pro-social skills. Baby Doll Circle Time (Infant/Toddler social/emotional curriculum) is founded on caring relationships.  Baby Doll Circle Time provides the opportunity for young children to experience being the nurturer by interacting with their baby dolls (or teddy bear) in the same ways that we as caring adults might interact with them.  As the children play with their dolls, they relive and strengthen the attachment and connection that they have with their caregivers and parents.

The goals of Baby Doll Circle Time are to:

  • Enhance attachment
  • Increase self-regulation
  • Promote trust
  • Foster attunement skills

It also provides a wonderful opportunity for young children to develop, experience, and practice compassion towards others by building connection.

Baby Doll Circle Time™ focuses on building connection through:

  • Eye contact
  • Gentle, appropriate touch
  • Being present in the moment
  • Playful interactions

Our teachers use Teaching Strategies Gold to assess children’s skills in multiple developmental areas: language, literacy, cognitive, social/emotional, mathematics, and physical. They then use the assessment results to plan targeted activities within the curriculum frameworks to help their students’ progress to ever higher abilities in each area. In addition, teachers share the assessment outcomes with parents multiple times per year, and collaboratively plan student goals with them to make sure each child is ready for kindergarten.

Family support services are a key component of the Head Start program.

Some of the available services include:

  • Providing case management to families
  • Offering crisis intervention
  • Assisting with access to community resources
  • Teaching advocacy skills
  • Developing family goals for a successful future

Families are provided numerous opportunities to get involved with the program. They include volunteering, employment opportunities, serving on committees, and being involved with the Policy Council.

KOOTASCA Head Start provides the following services to Head Start parents / caregivers:

  • Assist parents to identify and meet personal / family goals through individual home and center meetings
  • Assist families in accessing community resources such as the following:
    • Food banks
    • Parenting Support and Advocacy
    • Housing
    • Energy Assistance
    • Health services
    • Legal services
    • Health and Mental Health
    • Just a person to talk to
    • And more
  • Facilitate trainings and Family First Events focusing on health, mental health, nutrition, education, and special needs.
  • Support parents in enhancing leadership and advocacy skills through parent involvement.
  • Provide crisis intervention through referrals to services available in the community.

KOOTASCA Head Start promotes positive health and nutrition status for our enrolled children and to also support their families in lifetime preventive care practices.

We support our families by providing hearing, vision, nutrition, speech/language, and ensuring that each child needs are being met.  Additionally, we partner with Children’s Dental Services to provide convenient and necessary dental screening yearly at the KOOTASCA Mall. All our health screenings are completed within the first 45/90 days of your child’s enrollment and all appropriate referrals and resources are offered to families by our Education Compliance Manager after the screenings are completed.

Mealtimes at KOOTASCA Head Start are an extension of your child’s learning. At every meal, we model language, conversation, social interaction and introduce new foods. We serve our meals/snacks “family style” and our menus offer the healthiest options to our children by following the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) guidelines as well as the 2022 Dietary Guidelines.

We are all happy to support and provide your child with the best care possible while he/she is enrolled in our program. It is our belief that the health of your child impacts attendance and ability to be successful in school. We work hard to make sure your child has the healthy start they need to do their very best in school every day.

KOOTASCA Head Start collaborates with our area school districts to provide quality services for children who have disabilities. Ongoing coaching is provided from the district to support teaching staff and children with disabilities.

Children’s Mental Health and Northland Counseling Services partners with KOOTASCA Head Start to provide services to children and families who need support throughout the program year.


Head Start Classrooms are located in Keewatin, Marble, Taconite, Grand Rapids, Deer River, Northome, and International Falls.

Itasca County

Koochiching County

Our Unique Partnerships 

KOOTASCA Head Start partners with other programs in the community to provide the education and resources that children and families may need.  Our partners include: Invest Early, Children’s Mental Health, Kiesler Wellness Center, Itasca County Public Health, and University of Minnesota Extension.

Child and Adult Care Food Program
In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.

To file a complaint of discrimination call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD) or write,

USDA, Director, Office of Adjudication and Compliance
1400 Independence Avenue SW,
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410

Head Start Community Needs Assessment