A Head Start For Children & Families

Growing Futures Early Education Center, a Head Start for children and families, is a non-profit organization, providing quality early education opportunities and family support services for children in Johnson County, Kansas. Our Early Head Start and Head Start options are for children 0-5 and their families. Enrolled families also have access to a variety of comprehensive support services, including health and nutrition services, onsite play therapy, parent education, mental health, dental health, family advocacy, and family engagement opportunities. Our education program focuses on developing a child’s academic readiness, along with an emphasis on social and emotional development.

Growing Futures opened its doors in 1965 as a Head Start summer enrichment program for 17 preschool-aged children from low-income families, making us one of the original Head Start programs. Today, we serve nearly 250 low-income children and their families with Early Head Start and Head Start programs and we regularly maintain a wait list of more than 100 children.

Although our program has grown since 1965 to meet the increasing needs of Johnson County families, our funding has not kept pace with the demand for services. More than 32,500 Johnson County residents, or 5.6% of the population, lives below the federal poverty level with 3,119 of those residents being children, ages 0-5. Thousands more earn just enough to avoid the technical definition of poverty, which is $21,780 for a family of three. During the past decade, Johnson County's population grew by 20%, while the number of people living in poverty increased by 134%. Now, more than ever, our services are desperately needed.

Though we are partially funded by the federal government, for every $100.00 we receive from the federal government, we are required to raise an additional $25.00. That means to maintain our federal grant, we must come up with a non-federal match of over $415,000, annually, to remain in compliance with our federal funding. We rely heavily on support from our community partners, corporate sponsors, donors, local grants and our volunteers. There are so many ways to get involved with Growing Futures and we hope you will join us in our mission - to nurture children and strengthen families to enrich our community.




Early Head Start


Early Head Start

Head Start &

Wrap-Around Care


Family Services



Crayon Box


Individual Volunteering



Group Volunteering


Wish List





We greatly appreciate all of our volunteers! Did you know that each hour volunteered counts as $17.60 toward our non-federal goal? A half day group project can raise a significant amount for our organization! 

Growing Futures Annual Luncheon & Silent Auction

April 21, 2020  |  12pm to 1pm  |  DoubleTree Overland Park

PNC Hexagon Project

April 29  |  10:30am to 11:30am  |  Growing Futures Facility

Book Fair

May 5  |  12pm to 1pm  |  Growing Futures Facility

Crayon Box Tour

May 12  |  8:00am - 9:00am  |  Growing Futures Facility

Mayor Visit

May 15  |  2:00pm to 3:00pm  |  Growing Futures Facility

Memorial Day

May 25  |  Full Day  |  No School Today


"I have worked at Growing Futures for 22 years because we have the sweetest and cutest children, ever!  I love greeting them every morning and watching their excitement as they walk to their classroom!  Every day they have something new to show me or tell me!"

Ms. Nancy, Office Manager

Growing Futures


Terrie VanZandt-Travis, MSW

Executive Director

Melisa Smitson, PhD

Program Director

Gregg Gibson

Finance Director

Jessica Hoffman

Director of Development &

Community Relations

Suzanne Handlin, PHR

Human Resource Manager