City of Chattanooga

Head Start and Early Head Start

What is Chattanooga Head Start and Early Head Start?

The Chattanooga Head Start and Early Head Start program has been promoting the school readiness of Hamilton County’s children ages birth to five years since 1965. We believe the best way to prepare our children is to support the development of the whole child and give parents the resources they need to achieve their goals. Our classrooms provide a positive learning environment and our credentialed teachers use research based curricula to create developmental goals that are specifically tailored to each child.

Contact us to learn more!


Karitsa Jones

Executive Director, Chattanooga Head Start/Early Head Start

Karitsa Jones 

She is a Pritzker Fellow in Chattanooga’s Office of Early Learning, and is an adjunct professor in the Department of Social Work at UTC. 

She is also a licensed social worker who has spent more than 12 years working to help families in our community, and was a member of the 2015 inaugural class of the Harvard Business School’s Young American Leaders program.

Ms. Mosley Jones earned her master’s degree in social work, and her bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminal justice from Alabama A&M University. 

As the director of the Community Forward Schools, Ms. Mosley Jones will oversee a staff of seven who will work to connect students and parents to city resources and leverage the city’s community centers to better serve our students. 

“Ensuring that every single child has access to an excellent education is the most important challenge — and the most important opportunity — facing our city,” Mayor Kelly said. “These young people are the future of Chattanooga; we have no greater opportunity or more urgent need for investment. I know that Karitsa is up to the task of leveraging city resources, community support, and critical partners for our schools and our students.”

Christy Vandergriff

Deputy Director of Early Learning

Christy is very passionate about  serving children and families. She is a lifelong learner whose motto is, “We will figure it out”. 

Christy hold a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a M.A. from Tennessee Tech University in Instructional Leadership. Christy was a 2014 UCLA Johnson and Johnson Head Start Fellows where she received a certificate from the UCLA John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management.

She began her career as a home daycare provider and has since worked as a Tennessee State Pre-K teacher, Kindergarten Teacher, Education Manager, Head Start Teacher/Family Advocate, and Head Start Director. Christy has over 25 years of experience in Early Childhood Education.


Erica Jones

Multi-Disciplinary Team Manager of Parent, Family, Community and Engagement

As the Multi-Disciplinary Team Manager of Parent, Family, Community and Engagement, Erica oversees the programs supporting whole-child and whole-family supports. This includes Family Services, Parent Engagement, Health, Nutrition, Transportation, Special Projects, Dietary Staff, and Dual Language Learners.

Erica comes to Chattanooga Head Start/Early Head Start with experience both in the classroom and in disability services, and is dedicated to making sure each family has the supports they need to meet their family goals and to support the healthy growth and development of their children.

Erica has a BS in Child Development and Family Relations from Tennessee State University, and a MA in both Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University.


Traci Forrest

Multidisciplinary Team Manager, ERSEA

With a background in both early care and education and business management, Traci supports Chattanooga Head Start/Early Head Start enrollment and compliance; maintaining accurate data collection, supporting grants management, and ensuring health and safety requirements are met. Traci is passionate about trainings that make a difference in staff performance, and in building the capacity of our program in order to ensure excellence.

Traci’s career has focused on building the capacity of people and organizations. This has been the thread through her business and early care and education careers.

Traci holds a AAS in Early Childhood Education from Cleveland Technical Community College, and a BS in Business Management from Tennessee Wesleyan College.



Michelle Anderson

Fiscal Manager

As the Fiscal Manager, Michelle is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Fianace Division, and the planning grants budgets. She develops our federal financial reports, and provides Board of Directors fiscal trainings and reporting. 

In previous roles Michelle has worked at high level accounting positions, and has worked with federal grants for almost twenty years. 

Michelle holds a BBA in Accounting from Shorter University. 



We welcome all children including those with disabilities. We participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) so that we are able to provide nutritious meals daily.