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Frequently Asked Questions

More information on:

Human Resources
Early Childhood Education Centers
Early Head Start/Head Start
Community Based Initiatives
Charter School

1. How do I become a volunteer?
Complete and submit the Volunteer Application.
2. Is there a minimum age requirement?
Volunteers must be 15 years of age and older. Children 14 years and younger must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or chaperone at all times.

3. Do I have to fulfill a certain time commitment?
No, but once a commitment is made, it’s important that you fulfill that commitment because we count on our volunteers to help us carry out our mission.
4. Is there an orientation?
Yes, there is a mandatory orientation that will provide an overview on the agency and its programs.
5. Is there an interview?
Yes, interviews may take place via the phone or in person.
6. Is there training?
Yes, most volunteer opportunities require some training. When appropriate, training will be provided.
7. Do I need a medical examination?
A negative result from a TB test is required for certain volunteer positions.
8. Will I have to pay for parking?
All of our sites have free parking.
9. Is there a dress code?
The dress code is what ever is necessary and appropriate for the area in which the volunteer opportunity exists.

10. What types of benefits does volunteering at Neighborhood Centers Inc. offer?

  • Learn new skills in a rewarding and comfortable environment.
  • Become more confident in the skills you already have.
  • Gain experience for future employment.
  • Give your resume a competitive edge.
  • Fulfill educational requirements.
  • To feel connected to your community.  


Human Resources

1. How do I apply for a job?
Complete the Online Application.
2. How does the application process work?
After applying for a position with us, your application will be reviewed by our talent management team. Candidates who meet the qualifications of the position may be contacted and invited for a panel interview and a subsequent interview with the hiring manager and members of the hiring department.  Prior to the interview you will complete a short written pre-assessment questionnaire. After all selected candidates have been interviewed we will select the person we believe is the best candidate and an offer will be extended.
3. Who makes the final decision in regards to hiring applicants?
The hiring supervisor or designee makes the final decision.
4. What makes Neighborhood Centers Inc. an Equal Opportunity Employer?
Neighborhood Centers Inc. recognizes that diversity enriches the workplace and encourages individuals with bilingual and/or multicultural skills/experience to apply for positions for which they meet the qualifications. As such, this Agency will hire and promote without regard to such non-job related distinctions as race, color, creed, religion, age, sex (except when sex is a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, public assistance or national origin.
5. Where is Neighborhood Centers Inc. Human Resources department located and what are the hours of operation?
The Human Resources department is located at:
4500 Bissonnet, Ste. 225
Bellaire, Texas 77401
Second Floor
Office Hours: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday

Early Childhood Education Centers

1. For what ages does Neighborhood Centers Inc. provide care?
At our Magnoliafacility, we accept toddlers from age 2 through 5 years of age.

At Sharp, we accept infants beginning at six weeks of age, through children aged 5.

Both centers are accredited by NAEYC and offer a pre-K program in collaboration with Neighborhood Centers Inc. Charter School – Ripley Campus for children ages 3 through 5.
2. What are the qualifications to enroll a child?
Parents need to be working or studying on a full-time basis. We do have a waiting list, and enrollment is on a first-come, first-serve basis except for siblings of children already enrolled in our program.
3. How much does it cost?
Our fees are based on a sliding scale related to family income.
4. Are your centers open all year?
Yes, we are a year-round program. However, we are closed on some holidays.
5. Do you have an after-school program?
Our Early Childhood Education Centers do not offer after-school care. However, two of our neighborhood centers – Ripley House and Harbach-Ripley, which are located very close to the centers – do offer both after-school and summer programs.
Early Head Start/Head Start
1. What is Early Head Start?
Early Head Start is a federally-funded, community-based program that provides early, continuous, intensive and comprehensive child development and family support services to low-income pregnant women and families with children under age three. The ultimate goal is enhancing children’s competence, which is accomplished by providing high quality and individualized services for the child and family, strengthening families as primary nurturers of their child, and enhancing parent-child relationships.
2. What is Head Start?
The Head Start program, started in 1965, provides comprehensive health, nutritional, educational, social and mental health services to children from birth to age 5 who meet federal poverty guidelines. Head Start and the Early Head Start Program, which started in 1995, help enrolled children achieve their full potential and succeed in school. The program also provides parents with training and education to foster their understanding of, and involvement in, the development of their children. Head Start currently serves 923,000 children across the nation.
3. Does the Head Start program really work?
Yes. A substantial and growing body of research demonstrates that the Head Start program prepares children from disadvantaged backgrounds for success in school and life beyond the classroom. The Perry Preschool Study Project, conducted in Michigan between 1962 and 1967; the Carolina Abecedarian Project, conducted in North Carolina from 1972 to 1985; and the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey, conducted nationally from 1997 to 2000, provide solid evidence that children who attend high-quality preschool programs have better grades, higher test scores, lower dropout rates and are less likely to be involved in crime.

In 2002, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the results of a long-term study that found that 2-year-olds with at least one year of Early Head Start performed better on measures of cognitive, language and socio-emotional development than their non-participating peers. In addition, parents of Early Head start children performed better on measures of parenting, home environment and knowledge of child development. They were also more likely to be in job training and education and/or be employed than parents who did not participate in the program.

4. How do I get into the Early Head Start or Head Start Program?
There are three steps to the process of getting into Early Head Start or Head Start - Application, Selection and Enrollment.

Before you can enroll in the Early Head Start or Head Start program, you must meet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Income guidelines for eligibility. This happens during the Application Process. Once eligibility is determined, your Family Service Worker submits the application for review. Applications are scored or ranked based on income level and family need. Centers are then provided a list of eligible families to enroll in what is known as the Selection Process. Those families who are selected meet with their Family Service Worker to complete all of the necessary enrollment paperwork and to discuss any activities taking place before school begins. This is the Enrollment Process and is the beginning of your journey as part of the Head Start family.

5. How do I begin the application process for Early Head Start or Head Start?
The process is simple. First, you should determine the location nearest to your home. For programs located in ‘free-standing centers’, call the number listed for that center and ask to speak to a Family Service Worker who will guide you through the enrollment process.

If you are unsure what center your child should attend, please call 713-730-0055 for assistance.

For those Head Start families whose work and/or school schedules require more than an 8-hour day, Neighborhood Centers Inc. offers an extended day program at its Freedom Station location. Those interested should contact the center directly.

Please note that if you are interested in attending a Head Start program located at one of Neighborhood Centers Inc.’s collaborative school or child care sites, your child must first be enrolled in the school or center. Once enrolled, a Family Service Worker will contact you to begin the application and enrollment process for Head Start. For more information on collaborations email us.

6. What do I need to bring to enroll my child?
All you will need is the following:
  • Address verification (utility bill or lease).
  • Income verification (benefits letter or 1040 tax forms).
  • Age verification (birth certificate or birth fact).
  • Other documents – if available – include the child’s Social Security card, medical insurance card, current immunization record and recent dental and physical exams.

If you do not have the exact documents listed for income verification, please speak with your Family Service Worker. Alternative documentation may be accepted.

Please note that verification of you or your child’s immigration status is not part of the Early Head Start and Head Start enrollment process.

7. What schools and child care centers currently have Head Start collaborative classrooms?
Collaborative classrooms have both a school district or child care teacher and a Head Start teacher working together in the same classroom using the ‘co-teaching’ or ‘concurrent’ model. All families enrolled at collaborative sites receive the same comprehensive services as those families enrolled in Head Start centers.
8. Is the "co-teaching" or "concurrent" model used at all Early Head Start and Head Start centers and sites?
No. The majority of Neighborhood Centers Inc.’s Head Start centers operate using the “stacked” model, which derives its name from the “stacking” of a public pre-kindergarten half-day program and a 5 – 6 hour Head Start day to create an integrated program that recognizes and builds on the unique strengths and resources of each.
9. Is transportation provided?
We do not provide transportation in our Head Start centers. Those enrolled in school or child care sites may receive transportation as part of their enrollment agreement with the individual site. However, this is not part of the Head Start collaborative program.

We do offer limited transportation for the Early Head Start program to those who meet certain requirements. For more information please email us.

10. How can I become more involved with Head Start?
Parent and community involvement and participation is an important part of the Head Start program. Hours are flexible and training is provided by the agency. Current parents who are interested in volunteer opportunities should contact their child’s teacher or Family Service Worker. Community members should email us for further information.

Please note: TB skin tests and criminal background checks are required for all volunteers working directly with children.

11. How can I learn more?
For additional information on Head Start and other issues affecting early care and education:

Community Based Initiatives

1. What are your hours and days of operation?
We make every effort to make our facilities and services available to the entire community. Most centers operate weekly Monday- Friday between 7:00 A.M - 8:00 P.M and on a limited schedule, Saturdays from 9:00 A.M - 1:00 P.M.
Additional extended hours during special events and occasions such as workshops, classes, rentals, festivals etc. Please contact us for specific information.

2. Can we host our community events, business meetings or private parties at one your facilities?
We encourage you to contact us to schedule your next event. Events are scheduled as space is available. For more information e-mail us at: meetingspace@neighborhood-centers.org or call at 713-315-6402 or 6401.

3. Do I have to become a member in order to rent the Community Center facilities?
You do not have to become a member in order to rent NCI facilities. Members may receive a considerable discount (per hour) for rentals.

4. Do I have to pay to take classes or attend an event?
We charge nominal fees for classes and programs.

5. Is there childcare available during adult classes and workshops?
Not at this time.

6. What type of assistance is available for families relocated from New Orleans? What is the Stay Connected program?
The Stay Connected Program provides case management and support to families throughout Greater Houston.
Families relocated to La Porte area can receive food assistance, I & R, utility and rent assistance through one of our partner agencies.

7. I live close to one of your community centers. How do I get my family involved with your activities?
Families are encouraged to become members in order to take full advantage of the programs and services provided at community centers.

8. Is there a membership fee?
The annual membership fee is $100 (or 3 payments of $40) and gives you access to the 6 community centers located throughout Greater Houston and surrounding areas. Please contact the center nearest you for course schedules and program information.

9. What is the Healthy Start Program?
SUNNY FUTURES Healthy Start is a program whose mission is to reduce infant mortality rates and disparities in healthcare by providing community-based, family-centered prenatal services to women of childbearing age. Services include outreach, case management, health education, and depression screening for pregnant women.

10. Can anyone participate?
The SUNNY FUTURES Healthy Start project services ten ZIP codes in the Sunnyside, Third and Fifth Ward communities of Houston.

11. Where is the program located?
The host site for this project is Neighborhood Centers Inc. - Harbach-Ripley Neighborhood Center.

12. Do you provide childcare at the centers?
Yes. We provide skill building and recreational enrichment programs after school for children ages 5-12.Daily and weekly programs are also available for children ages 13 and above. Please contact the center nearest you for additional information and schedules.

13. What are your hours of operation?
Monday through Friday from 3:00-6:00 P.M., and during school holidays and summer, from 7:00-6:00 P.M.

14. How do I enroll my child in your after-school programs? Can anyone attend?
Please contact your center of interest and schedule a meeting with the youth coordinator to complete an enrollment form. You will be asked to bring your child’s most recent report card and immunization records. Additional requirements for participation in certain programs and activities may vary from site to site.

15. Do you provide transportation from my child’s school?
Transportation from school to the center is available on a limited basis. Transportation to and from field trips is provided to after-school program participants at no additional charge.

16. What activities are available for my teenager?
Youth Development Services offers a great variety of skill building activities for teens age 13 and up in a positive learning environment. Experiential learning opportunities such as academic workshops, field trips, and service learning projects accent and improve your child’s abilities at school and at home. For a complete list of these opportunities, please contact the Harbach-Ripley Neighborhood Center.

17. What are the hours and days of operation for your Senior Programs?
Most of our Senior Centers operate weekly Monday - Friday between 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Several Senior Centers operate extended hours daily from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

18. Are there fees for your services?
There are no fees for services received through one of the Senior Centers or for meals served through the congregate meal program.

19. What is the congregate meal program?
Participants are provided daily with a hot nutritious noon meal that helps them meet daily nutritional requirements in a social setting.

20. What is the enrollment criterion?
All active adults ages 60 and up are eligible for this program.

21. What type of socialactivities do you have for seniors?
The Activity Centers for Seniors program (ACES) is led by certified fitness instructors and is designed to increase the physical activity levels in older adults through monitored physical activity at select Neighborhood Centers Senior Centers. Additionally, Seniors enjoy informational workshops and classes, learn self-help skills, and participate in social outings and events.
22. Is there a fee for the ACES Activity Program?
There are no fees for this program. It is offered at designated sites three times a week for one hour. Please contact us for locations and enrollment information.

Charter Schools

1. What are Charter Schools?
Charter schools are free, publicly funded elementary or secondary schools that are exempt from some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools, in exchange for accountability for producing specific academic results, which are set forth in each charter school's charter.According to the Texas Education Code, the purposes of charter schools are to (1) improve student learning; (2) increase the choice of learning opportunities within the public school system; (3) create professional opportunities that will attract new teachers to the public school system; (4) establish a new form of accountability for public schools; and (5) encourage different and innovative learning methods. Neighborhood Centers Inc. is highly interested in providing education reforms and developing new and creative teaching methods that can offer viable choices and high-quality programs for families and their school-aged children.

2. How are the Neighborhood Centers Inc. Charter Schools different from other public schools?
Our Charter Schools offer a well-balanced, child-centered educational experience that focuses on, and goes beyond, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. In addition, our charter school maintains the following:
  • High Expectations – We offer a culture of high academic and behavioral achievement. Both staff and students are expected to attend school regularly and put forth their best efforts at all times. Our rigorous curriculum, taught by highly qualified teachers, ensures that students will be capable of succeeding in future educational settings.
  • Personalized Environment – At our school, all classes are maintained at an 18 to 1 student/teacher ratio. Because we respect the important role that parents play as their child’s first teacher, our staff interacts regularly with parents to ensure that each child’s needs are being met. After school and Saturday tutorials, as well as a month-long summer program, are required for students who need additional academic assistance.
  • Accountability – Teachers, parents and students are asked to commit in writing to maintaining consistent effort toward excellent performance in all areas. Students are assessed on state achievement tests (TAKS) as well as norm-referenced tests (Stanford-10) that compare student performance against students across the country. The Charter School – Ripley Campus is a Texas Education Agency ‘Recognized’ school.
3. Who can attend the Charter School?
Ours is an open-enrollment charter school. An open-enrollment charter school may not deny admission to a student based on gender, national origin, ethnicity, religion, disability, academic ability, artistic ability, athletic ability or based on the school district that the child would otherwise attend. An open-enrollment charter school may, however, deny admission to a student who has a documented history of a criminal offense, a juvenile court adjudication or discipline problems under Chapter 37, Subchapter A of the Texas Education Code.

4. Is transportation provided?
Transportation to the campus is not provided.


1. What are the sources of your financial support?
Our financial support comes from the following sources:
  • United Way: $5.7M (2.1%)
  • Government Grants/Contracts: $252.0M (94.3%)
  • Foundation & Private Contributions: $7.4M (2.8%)
  • Program Revenues: $2.2M (0.8%)
2. How does your spending break down by programs?
Visit our Financials page to learn more about our spending budget.
3. How do you compare to other nonprofits in terms of cost-effectiveness?
We are well-known for our high degree of accountability and effectiveness. Our management and general overhead, including fundraising costs, is less than 5% of our annual budget. We combine the best business practices with strategic social service goals.

4. Do you have audited financial statements, and where can we find such statements?