Who We Are

Welcome To Our New Website!

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 programs 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, medical and dental health, family support and 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 222 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


Head Start Awareness Month

All October! Be sure to spread the word!

On October 22, 1982, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as Head Start Awareness Month.

Fire Prevention Day

Oct 8  | Sound the Alarm!

Firefighter Tricia will drop by for an outdoor demonstration, showing how firefighters suit up for 

National Fire Safety Week. 

JCYM Pumpkin Patch

Oct 13  |  Children will enjoy playing "follow the leader" through a fall maze, leading to pumpkin patch at Growing Futures, where children will be able to pick out their very own pumpkin to take home with them! Children in our home-based programs and virtual programs will also receive a pumpkin. This event is hosted by the Johnson County Young Matrons and this year, they have partnered with Juniper Hill Farms to provide the pumpkins!

Columbus Day

Oct 13 |  Holiday 

Staff Professional Development Day

Oct 16  | Staff will participate in CPR training, will receive flu shots and all staff training.

Boo Bash Bingo: A Virtual Fundraiser

Oct 27  |  6:45PM

The community is encouraged to invite their friends, family and neighbors to dust off their virtual bingo blotters for a rousing 6 rounds of bingo, Halloween candy & wine pairing, costume contest, prizes and more; all while supporting a SPOOKTACULAR cause over the web! Our goal is to raise $3,500. See our event page for more information!


Get Involved



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! 



"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

Dave Harrold

Finance Director

Jessica Hoffman

Director of Development &

Community Relations

Suzanne Handlin, PHR

Human Resource Manager




To nurture children and strengthen families to enrich our community.


“The first five years have so much to do with

how the next 80 turn out.”  

- Bill Gates Sr. -

Contact Us!

Growing Futures Early Education Center

8155 Santa Fe Drive 

Overland Park, KS 66204


Ask Us Anything!
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8155 Santa Fe Drive  |  Overland Park, KS 66204  |  913-649-9714

©2020 by Growing Futures Early Education Center

Thank you to our presenting sponsor!

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A Head Start For Children & Families