About Us


Lady Bird Johnson, pictured above reading to school children, was a strong supporter of the Head Start program from its inception.

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What is Head Start?

Head Start is a federally-funded comprehensive preschool program for children ages three to five who are not kindergarten eligible. Applicants must be Portage County residents and meet Federal income guidelines.

At Head Start, our mission is to provide you and your child with the best possible preschool experience. Each classroom is licensed by the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services and is staffed with a teacher and teacher’s aide.

Our History

Head Start is one of the longest-running programs to address systemic poverty in the United States. Launched in 1965 by its creator and first director Jule Sugarman, Head Start was originally conceived as a catch-up summer school program that would teach low-income children in a few weeks what they needed to know to start kindergarten. Lady Bird Johnson, pictured above reading to school children, was a strong supporter of the Head Start program from its inception. The Head Start Act of 1981 expanded the program, and it was further revised when it was reauthorized in December of 2007. As of late 2005, more than 22 million pre-school aged children had participated.

Head Start in Portage County

The Portage Private Industry Council, Inc. (PPIC) dba Portage Learning Centers (PLC) is private, not for profit, 501 c(3) organization that was incorporated in 1983 to administer the federally funded Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) programs. PPIC administered JTPA programs from 1983 through 2000, when the program was replaced by the Workforce Investment Act. In 1997 PPIC was awarded the State and Federal Head Start programs for Portage County. PLC is the administrator of the Federal Head Start and Early Head Start Programs for Portage County, Ohio.

The Head Start program is a no-cost preschool for low income children three to five years of age, who are not kindergarten eligible. Families must meet eligibility requirements in order to participate. PLC has four Head Start centers located throughout Portage County and serves approximately 290 children each year.

Early Head Start (EHS) is a free program designed for infants, toddlers, pregnant women and their families who meet established eligibility guidelines.  EHS enhances children’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual development, assists pregnant women to access comprehensive prenatal and postpartum care, supports parents’ efforts to fulfill their parental roles and helps parents move toward self-sufficiency.  PLC serves 84 children and pregnant women in the home-based program and at our Happy Day School location.

PLC is governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees which is made up of individuals from local businesses and community agencies. Head Start and Early Head Start programs are governed by Policy Council comprised of parent and community representatives.

Our Mission

Portage Learning Centers are dedicated to optimizing the potential of children and families to succeed in life by promoting the empowerment of individuals and supporting positive growth and personal goal achievement. We believe in fostering the dignity and self-worth of all individuals.

The mission of Portage Learning Centers Head Start is to foster the parent’s role as the principle influence on the child’s development through comprehensive services and community resource partnerships.

Annual Report July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016