Denver Great Kids Head Start

kid smiling doing art

Early education programs and support services at no cost for families with children ages 0 to 5.

Denver Great Kids Head Start prepares preschoolers to enter kindergarten with the social, physical, emotional, cognitive skills and competencies necessary for continued school success. And NEW this fall, comprehensive child development programs, and support services will be available to pregnant moms, infants, toddlers and their families through our Early Head Start program!

Enrollment Eligibility

Our Early Head Start program serves pregnant moms, infants and toddlers ages 0 to 3, and the Head Start program is for children ages 3 to 5. Families must be eligible and meet the below qualifications to enroll their child:

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Program Partners and Sites

The Denver Great Kids Head Start partners with several organizations across the city to provide Early Head Start and Head Start sites for Denver families. Our partner agencies include:

Locate a Program Site

Available Services to Support Health, Wellness and Education

Quality Early Education

Denver Great Kids Head Start and each of our delegate agencies work closely together to ensure that all children receive a comprehensive, research-based curriculum and provide activities and interactions that foster developmentally appropriate practices. This, along with a variety of assessments and screening tools, is used to ensure that every child receives individual instruction and achieves his or her full potential.

Data is collected three times per year using Teaching Strategies GOLD ©, which is supported by the Head Start Learning Outcomes Framework and the Colorado Department of Education Results Matter Program. This outcomes tool is used to measure child growth, classroom strength, and areas for development.

Once enrolled in our program, each child and family will have the opportunity to participate in:

  • initial screenings
  • Two home visits
  • Two parent-teacher conferences

Parents will receive information about their child’s academic progress at each of these meetings. Parents and teachers collaborate to develop goals for the child in order to support learning both at home and in the program to ensure kindergarten readiness.

Health Services

Partnerships with local organizations, clinics, and providers have been developed to meet the health and nutrition performance standards, which require all Head Start programs to assist families with:

  • Establishing a medical and dental home
  • Maintaining up-to-date medical schedules
         1. Early Periodic Screening Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) schedule
         2. Vaccination schedule as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Health Service Partners

  • Denver Health provides on-site nursing support, clinical oversight, and consultation.
  • Marion Downs Center offers annual screenings for hearing, vision, and speech.

Nutrition and Wellness

Nutrition is part of a healthy lifestyle and providing nutritious meals to children is a fundamental service of Denver Great Kids Head Start programs. Our performance standards require that all programs serve USDA approved meals in their centers and nutrition programs meet the needs and feeding requirements of each child. This includes children with disabilities or special dietary needs. Our nutrition program also serves a variety of foods that consider cultural and ethnic preferences, while broadening their food experience.

Denver Great Kids Head Start partners with nutrition consultants to perform quality monitoring of the USDA Child and Adult Food Care Program (CACFP) and promote wellness through educating children, their families, and staff about creating good eating habits.

From 2012 to present, Denver Great Kids Head Start has partnered with the University of Colorado Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center to implement intervention programs related to healthy eating and physical activity to increase the number of children who are at a healthy weight. This Culture of Wellness Program includes: I am Moving, I am Learning (IMIL); Integrated Nutrition Education Program (INEP), and a variety of workplace wellness activities such as walking clubs, and fruit and vegetable challenges.

Inclusive Disabilities and Mental Health Services

Denver Great Kids Head Start provides a wide range of supports to ensure that the needs of children with disabilities, or at risk, are fully supported to achieve their full potential. Our program works in partnership with Denver Public Schools, Sewall Child Development Center, and Rocky Mountain Human Services to ensure children and pregnant mothers enrolled in Early Head Start and Head Start receive services to which they are entitled to. In addition, we provide ongoing coaching and consultation to teachers and staff to ensure the successful inclusion of all children.

Denver Great Kids Head Start also supports parents/guardians to become successful advocates for their children. This occurs through ongoing consultation and dialog between staff and families, training and leadership opportunities, and referrals to community resources.

A range of services for early childhood mental health consultation is provided onsite by licensed mental health professionals. These services include classroom consultation and coaching for teachers, individual support for children and families, and a variety of parenting classes to promote social and emotional development in children.  Denver Great Kids Head Start has taken the extra step to secure private funding, in addition to Head Start funding, to provide these services.

Parent Education and Training

Denver Great Kids Head Start embraces and encourages parental involvement by providing opportunities for parents to receive education on obtaining public health insurance and medical services, attend conferences, participate in program governance with the Policy Council and develop job and leadership skills. 

These opportunities exist through classes and participation in a variety of committees including:

  • Policy Council
  • Health Services Advisory Committee
  • Policy Committee
  • English as a Second Language Classes
  • Culture Of Wellness Nutrition Classes
  • Training on Financial Literacy
  • Positive Parenting Classes
  • Monthly Parent Meetings

Team Members

Al Martinez, Ph.D.
Executive Director
720-913-0888 |

Christopher Auer, MA, PMP
Disabilities & Mental Health Director
720-913-0894 |

Liane Martinez
School Readiness Director
720-913-0884 |

Mary McNeill
Family Services Director
720-913-0882 |

Lori Medina-Anderson
Health Services Director
720-913-0895 |

Caridad Nevarez
Office Manager
720-913-0883 |

Mikhail Vafeades
Five by Five Administrator
720-913-0904 |