Serving young children (birth to age 5) and pregnant women in Trenton, NJ.
CHSofNJ’s Head Start/Early Head Start (HS/EHS) Center-Based program provides high quality early childhood education and comprehensive services to children ages 3-5 (Head Start) and infants and toddlers ages 0-3 (Early Head Start). All services, including daily nutritious meals and comprehensive support services, are provided at no cost to families. For detailed descriptions of services provided to HS/EHS families, refer to the ‘Comprehensive Services’ tab.
HS/EHS children participate in engaging, interactive lessons and activities designed to reinforce key skills and developmental abilities. Our research-based curriculum is designed to help young children develop in six key areas: cognitive, social-emotional, physical, language, literacy, and mathematics. Further enhanced by our comprehensive services and individualized support, our program helps children build the strong foundation for learning that enables them to thrive in Kindergarten and beyond.
Our program is delivered in partnership with the Trenton Public Schools Office of Early Childhood. The Trenton Board of Education provides funding to enhance the learning experiences of our children and elevate our teachers’ credentials through NJ State certification.
Our Philosophy: CHSofNJ HS/EHS actively encourages parent participation – in the classroom, at HS/EHS events, and in administering the program. We recognize parents as their child’s first and best teacher, and we are committed to partnering with parents to help children and families achieve their full potential!
As with all CHSofNJ programs, HS/EHS views children, families, and services through a trauma-informed lens. Our staff are trained to understand and serve children who have experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which can impact behavior, health, development, cognition, and more. Our team also recognizes that trauma exists in the lives of parents, guardians, and other family members. Therefore, we approach all interactions with respect and care to ensure comfort and build a trusting partnership with each family we serve.
Call (609) 695-6274 Ext. 213 or submit an application to speak with our friendly and knowledgeable staff about your family’s eligibility!
CHSofNJ HS/EHS Eligibility Criteria
- Children (birth-age 5) or pregnant women from families with household incomes below Federal Poverty Guidelines.
*Foster children are eligible regardless of their foster income.
†Some income exceptions may be made if all other criteria is met; submit a Program Interest Form online to learn if you qualify.
- Homeless families or families whose residency is unstable/uncertain.
- Families receiving public assistance such as TANF, SSI or SNAP.
Residents of zip code 08608; 08609; 08610; 08611; 08618; 08619; 08628; 08629; 08638; 08645; or 08646.
HS/EHS uses a blend of research-based curricula to meet the needs of our children and families.
- Head Start: The Creative Curriculum for Preschool (ages 3-5) incorporates interactive, engaging, and meaningful lessons and learning opportunities to support children’s education and school readiness.
- Early Head Start (Center Based): The Creative Curriculum for Infants & Toddlers (ages 0-2) incorporates interactive, engaging, and meaningful lessons and learning opportunities to support children’s education and school readiness.
- Early Head Start (Home Based): Partners for a Healthy Baby features materials and topics to support both age-appropriate learning and family development.
- Parenting Curriculum: ReadyRosie is an evidence-informed and research-based family engagement and early learning resource proven to have a positive impact on family behaviors and child outcomes. We use this engaging curriculum to support families in creating meaningful learning and bonding opportunities in their homes.
Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum: The Second Step Curriculum helps children build empathy, friendship, emotional regulation, and problem solving skills. Additionally, Second Step supports children experiencing trauma and/or behavioral challenges.
In addition to high-quality early childhood education and pre- and post-natal education/services for pregnant women, CHSofNJ HS/EHS provides:
- Healthy Meals and Snacks
Healthy meals and snacks are provided daily at all of our Center-Based sites, as well as at socialization events for EHS Home-Based and Pregnancy Services participants. Health and Nutrition Education is provided across all program options to promote healthy, happy children and families.
- Medical and Dental Services
Children are connected to licensed providers in the community, and the program’s Nurse maintains current records of needed health services to ensure children are healthy, meeting developmental milestones, and up-to-date on required check-ups and immunizations.
- Resource Referrals
Families receive referrals to community organizations and other CHSofNJ programs for resources and services to meet their specific needs and help them achieve the goals they have set for themselves.
- Parent Engagement
We believe parents are their children’s first and best teacher. Therefore, our program is committed to engaging parents in the program and their child’s learning experience. From family activities that reinforce positive parent-child relationships to Policy Council membership and everything in between, there are plenty of ways for parents to be involved!
- Mental, Behavioral, and Physical Health and Disabilities Support
Mental, behavioral, and physical health and disabilities support is provided for children and families, including those with or in need of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Our caring, experienced Mental Health & Disabilities Support Team considers each child and family’s specific needs through a trauma-informed lens to provide appropriate, needed support; educates and empowers families to advocate for their children; and offers support as families navigate challenges related to their children’s disabilities or suspected disabilities. Inclusion classrooms are available for children with an IEP or an IFSP.
- Education and Career Development
We strive to connect parents with rewarding and gainful employment to help support themselves and their families. HS/EHS prioritizes the hiring of parents in our program, and when we learn of opportunities at partner organizations, we share them with our families and whenever possible, recommend qualified candidates! The program also coordinates trainings for parents each year to help HS/EHS parents become more well-rounded professionals with even stronger resumes. Additionally, staff will help parent identify opportunities and/or resources to obtain needed education, certification, etc. that might help them enter a new field or advance in their current field.
- Support to Achieve Goals
Family Partnership Agreements are led by parents and supported by HS/EHS to help families stay on track to achieve the goals they set for themselves.
- Community-Building Opportunities
Socialization events, Parent-Center Meetings, holiday celebrations, etc. create opportunities for enrolled families to meet, share a meal and good conversation, and build friendships. Relationships formed in our program and grown through the many occasions to connect help families develop their personal support network and feel a stronger connection to their community.
Transportation is provided daily to some of our Center-Based Head Start sites (limited availability, based on need). Limited transportation may also be provided for some socialization events.
CHSofNJ HS/EHS is committed to helping children thrive in all areas of life. In addition to quality early childhood education and connection to comprehensive supportive services for families, the program is acutely focused on the health and wellness of every child enrolled.
- Health & Mental Health Services Team
Our Health & Mental Health Services Team consists of a Health & Safety Manager, Nurse, Health Services Assistant, Nutritionist, Mental Health Coordinator, and Mental Health Specialist. This team works in partnership with other teams including Education, Disabilities Support, Facilities, Family & Community Engagement, and Quality Assurance to ensure participant health and wellness remain a core focus of our program.
- Health Services Advisory Committee
CHSofNJ HS/EHS is proud of our Health Services Advisory Committee (HSAC), which consists of local health professionals dedicated to supporting our children and families. The HSAC meets twice a year to discuss potential partnerships within the Trenton and Mercer County community and to make recommendations surrounding health screenings and services delivered in HS/EHS.
- Health Screenings
Within 45 calendar days of starting school or receiving the first home visit, each child will be screened for: Height & Weight, Vision, Hearing, and Dental. Results of these screenings will help identify possible interventions to ensure your child’s health and wellness. Families with questions or concerns raised by health screenings can be quickly and seamlessly referred to our on-staff experts or external community partners specializing in diagnosis and/or treatment of various health challenges or conditions.
- Developmental and Behavioral Screenings
Early identification of challenges can make a world of difference to a child. The earlier a concern is identified, the greater chance a child has for reaching his or her full potential. CHSofNJ HS/EHS has a timely and systematic approach toward screening that indicates which children require a formal assessment of their developmental needs. In collaboration with each child’s parent and within 45 calendar days of the child’s entry into the program, staff administer the Ages & Stages Questionnaire® (ASQ-3) to pinpoint progress in children between the ages of one month to 5.5 years; The Early Screening Inventory, 3rd Edition(ESI-3) to help identify children who may benefit from special education services; and the Ages & Stages Questionnaire® Social-Emotional, 2nd Edition (ASQ:SE-2), focused solely on social-emotional development in young children, to identify behavior requiring further assessment, specialized intervention, or ongoing monitoring to help children reach their fullest potential during their most formative years.
For pregnant women in our EHS program, staff administer the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) twice – once during pregnancy and again following delivery – to determine if a new or expectant mother might benefit from mental health intervention or support. The EPDS is only a screening tool and does not diagnose postpartum depression. However, using the EPDS, new mothers can be referred to our staff Mental Health Coordinator for support or a community mental health provider for diagnosis and treatment, as appropriate.
CHSofNJ HS/EHS belongs to the parents, caregivers, and children who attend the program. The program seeks out parent ideas and support to help us better serve families in Trenton, including those that speak other languages and come from other cultures. We invite parents to join Policy Council or Parent Committees where they can help guide the program in partnership with CHSofNJ’s Board of Trustees. Meetings are conducted in English and Spanish, and materials are provided in both languages. Materials are translated into additional languages upon request to ensure understanding and to support diverse participation.
- Parent-Center Committees
Each HS/EHS Center and program option host Parent-Center meetings monthly to create an opportunity for ongoing conversation between parents and staff about topics specific to their Center. Questions, concerns, and feedback provided in Parent-Center Meetings are often elevated to program leadership, and play an important role in program design and implementation. Active Parent-Center Committee members often find such personal satisfaction through this level of engagement that they go on to self-nominate themselves for Policy Council membership! If you would like to learn more, contact your Center or Home Visitor!
- Policy Council
Policy Council is the parent-led governing body of HS/EHS responsible for the direction of the program, including program design, operation, goals and objectives, and more. Membership consists of current HS/EHS parents and community representatives, elected annually by the parents of currently enrolled children. Policy Council meets with program leadership monthly to discuss program successes or challenges; approve or deny proposed actions; make decisions regarding program strategic planning, operation, etc. If you would like to learn more about Policy Council membership, email our Parent Involvement Coordinator, Francys Soto, at email@example.com.
CHSofNJ’s HS/EHS program understands that parents are their child’s first and best teachers, and we encourage and welcome parent ideas and feedback! If you have a suggestion to improve the program, or would like to learn how you can volunteer, contact your child’s Center today!
Our program implements a comprehensive School Readiness Plan that encompasses the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF). The ELOF is designed to show the continuum of learning for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. It is grounded in comprehensive research around what young children should know and be able to do during their early years (birth to age 5). To explore the Interactive ELOF, click here.
CHSofNJ HS/EHS uses Teaching Strategies GOLD® to inform instruction without disruption by embedding authentic, observation-based assessment into every day. The assessment model used in GOLD® enables teachers to select and adapt activities that support each child’s development and learning. Meaningful reports inform classroom practices and individualized instruction. Areas assessed using TS GOLD® include:
- Science & Technology
- Social Studies
- The Arts
- English Language Acquisition
CHSofNJ HS/EHS also utilizes the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS®) to help focus, measure, and improve the effectiveness of teacher-student interactions in classrooms – a key factor proven to drive children’s academic and life-long success. CLASS® measures the emotional, organizational, and instructional supports provided by teachers that contribute to children’s social, developmental, and academic achievement.
We invite you to explore our program outcomes by viewing our most recent CHSofNJ HS/EHS Annual Report in the ‘Additional Information’ tab.
Head Start (ages 3-5)
- 715 Bellevue Avenue
- 1198 Southard Street
- 794 E. State Street
- 1746 S. Clinton Avenue
Early Head Start (ages 0-3)
- 1198 Southard Street
- 1435 Liberty Street
400 Chambers Street (for children of Trenton Central High School students only)
The impact of COVID-19 caused our program to think critically about how we deliver services. We are thrilled to have returned to fully in-person services. However, we have found that many of the virtual tools employed in 2020 and 2021 helped our families stay engaged in their child’s learning and activities, and made it easier for some parents to. Therefore, we will continue to use platforms such as Zoom, ClassDojo, Teaching Strategies® MyChat forum, and more as appropriate to connect with families and support children’s learning.
Should the need arise to return to remote or hybrid learning, our program will be able to seamlessly transition, as all of our families and children will already be using the platforms needed to provide services virtually.
For assistance enrolling in any of our program options, call (609) 695-6274, Ext. 213
Education and Program Operation
To learn about our curriculum, teaching practices, classroom environment, and educational staff credentials, contact:
Interim HS/EHS Deputy Director
Family & Community Engagement
To learn how HS/EHS engages families and community partners, contact:
Family & Community Partnerships Manager
Health, Safety, Nutrition, and Transportation
To learn about our health, safety, nutrition, and transportation services, contact:
Health & Safety Manager
EHS Home-Based Program & Pregnancy Services
To learn about our home-based program and services for pregnant women, contact:
EHS Home-Based Program Manager
To learn about the quality of our programming or make suggestions for quality improvement, contact:
Quality Assurance Manager
HS/EHS Executive Director
To speak with our Executive Director, please contact:Isaac L. Dorsey
HS/EHS Executive Director
- Current School Year Calendar
- HS/EHS Center-Based Brochure
- EHS Home-Based Brochure
- Enrollment Flier
- HS/EHS Annual Report
- USDA Non-Discrimination Statement (English)
- USDA Non-Discrimination Statement (Additional Languages)