Special Services

Engaging children as they meet their milestones

The Special Services Department works with families and their children with disabilities and/ or mental health concerns to ensure their children receive the full benefits of participation in the program.  The department engages parents and staff in early identification and intervention services to help children meet their developmental milestones. Also, the department provides classroom support and promotes advocacy skills with families as needed.
The department plays a crucial role in services for Head Start (HS) and Early Head Start (EHS) families that align with the school readiness goals and the Head Start Program Performance Standards.

Virtual Parent Trainings

  • November 15, 2022: Let’s Talk: Missing Loved Ones and Managing Grief
  • February 21, 2023: Recognizing Challenging Behaviors and When to Seek a Professional
  • April 18, 2023: What’s Ahead: Remaining Optimistic in Uncertainty
  • May 16, 2023: Promoting Independence in your child

Parent Workshops

  • October 18, 2022 @ 6pm: Sensory Bot
  • November 18, 2022 @ 6pm: Friendship Tree
  • February 7, 2023 @ 6pm: Count and Throw
  • April 4, 2023 @ 6pm: Kindness Stones

Disability Services

The Special Services Department is committed to working with families and their children that have a suspected or identified disability. This includes children with severe disabilities. The Agency’s goal is for every child to receive the comprehensive services needed to meet their developmental, health, and social needs.  The department assists families in obtaining services through their Local Education Agency (education model) and additional support or therapy services with contract Disabilities Providers (DP) known as private providers (medical model).  
The department works collaboratively with Local Education Agencies, community agencies, GCCSA staff, and private providers to ensure that all children receive services in a timely manner. In addition, we are committed to dedicating 10% of our funded enrollment to enroll children with disabilities.
The Agency has contracts with Mental health Professionals (MHP) to assist parents and staff with mental health concerns.  MHPs provide direct support to children, parents, and staff.  They also assist children in emotional, cognitive, and social development. The department works collaboratively with Local Education Agencies, community agencies, GCCSA staff, and private providers to ensure that all children receive services in a timely manner and to enhance awareness and understanding of mental wellness.

Mental Health Services

Meet the Department

For additional information, please email the Special Services Department –  headstartspecialservices@gccsa.org

Special Services Manager

Delores Cordova 4

Delores Cordova

Hometown: Houston, Texas

GCCSA Employee Since: 2001

Hobbies: Crafting, Traveling and Bargain Shopping

Bonus: Favorite color is burgundy and hunter green, loves playing board games like Pictionary and spending time with her family

Administrative Assistant

Laura Gutierrez

Laura Gutierrez

Hometown: Bakersfield, California/ raised in Houston

GCCSA Employee Since: 2011

Hobbies: Enjoys walking – it’s very relaxing!

Bonus: Favorite color is blue. 

“I’m hoping to retire from GCCSA. I love my job!”

Special Services Specialist

Noelia Sanchez 1

Noelia Sanchez

Hometown: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

GCCSA Employee Since: 2014

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Social Work and Psychology

Hobbies: Spending quality time with family and friends, cooking, and listening to music

Bonus: Previously worked as a Drug and Alcohol Therapist and Multi-Systemic Family Therapist

Centers Serviced: Bastian, Garden Villa, Raul Yzaguirre, and Virtual

“I love the Pittsburgh Steelers!”

Special Services Specialist

Natalie Tristan

Natalie Tristan

Hometown: Houston, Texas

GCCSA Employee Since: 2018

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Minor in Social Work

Hobbies: Exercising, traveling, outdoor activities, watching horror movies, family time, and playing board games

Bonus: Bilingual (English & Spanish) 

Centers Serviced: Alcott, Franklin, Reveille, Young

Special Services Specialist

Esmeralda Whaley

Esmeralda Whaley

Hometown: Houston, Texas

GCCSA Employee Since: 2008

Education: Associate Degree in Arts and Child Development

Hobbies: Softball

Bonus: Bilingual (English & Spanish)

Centers Serviced: East End, Pasadena, Patterson, Richey, Rucker

“I am passionate about working with children with disabilities and their families.”

Special Services Specialist

Greg Yarbrough

Greg Yarborough

Hometown: Houston, Texas

GCCSA Employee Since: 2014

Education: Sam Houston State University

Hobbies: Fishing and reading

Bonus: Worked in Education and Social Services for 25+ years. Also worked as a probation officer, teacher, and as a counselor at an alternative school.

Centers Serviced: Bellfort, Gregg, Hartsfield, Plum Creek, Thompson

“I enjoy working with families and witnessing their growth. I am also the Dallas Cowboys’ #1 fan!”

Special Services Specialist

Cynthia Hickman 5

Cynthia Hickman

Hometown: Houston, Texas

GCCSA Employee Since: 1996

Education: Degree in Early Childhood/ Child Development

Hobbies: Spending time with family, traveling, playing dominoes and spades

Bonus: Worked with children for over 30 years. Certified in ASK (Texas Suicide Prevention), IMR (Illness Management Recovery), and provides specialized services to adults (Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services). 

Centers Serviced: Early Head Start, Foster, Kelso, Woodson

“I am grateful for every opportunity GCCSA has provided me as I continue to strive to support and advocate for our children and families!”

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. Read more on our anti-discrimination policies.