Head Start Program

What is the Head Start Program ?

Head Start is a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that offers low-income children and families comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent participation services. The program's resources and services are created to support stable family relationships, improve children's physical and emotional well-being, and create a setting for the growth of strong cognitive skills.

Head Start programs promote the school readiness of toddlers, preschool-aged children and infants from families with low income. Services are offered in a range of settings including centers, family child care and children's own home. With a focus on family well-being, Head Start programs help foster strong relationships with parents or other significant family members. Parents take on leadership responsibilities and have a voice in how programs are run.

The Head Start programs, which offer care and child-development services to low-income families and their children from birth to age five, are among other federally supported projects. The transition from preschool to elementary school imposes a variety of developmental problems, such as the need for the kids to interact successfully with classmates outside of the family network, become used to the classroom environment, and live up to the standards set by the school environment.

The Head Start program includes Early Head Start programs for infants, toddlers, and pregnant families as well as Head Start preschool programs, which predominantly serve 3- and 4-year-old children. All programs accept dual-language learners and children with disabilities. Visit the Head Start Services Visit disclaimer page for an overview of the various Head Start programs.

Key Facts of Head Start

  • The most vulnerable young children in America are prepared for school and life success through Head Start programs.
  • A federal program called Head Start works to improve the cognitive, social, and emotional growth of kids from low-income families so that they are more prepared for school.
  • Programs like Head Start offer a learning environment that fosters children's development in a variety of areas, including language, literacy, and social and emotional growth.
  • Parents are their children's first and most crucial teachers, according to Head Start.
  • These initiatives assist the development of connections with families that promote family well-being and many other crucial areas.
  • For infants, toddlers, pregnant women, and their families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold, many Head Start programs also provide Early Head Start.
  • In low-income children aged three to five, Head Start promotes healthy development and early childhood education.

Head Start Program History

President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society program launched Head Start. The staff of the President's Council of Economic Advisers provided its defense. The Upward Bound Program and the Head Start initiative were both started by Stan Salett, a civil rights activist, adviser on national education policy, and architect of the Upward Bound Program.

created in 1965 by Jule Sugarman, its inaugural director, and Bernice H. Fleiss. Initially, Head Start was intended to serve as a summer school catch-up program, preparing low-income children for elementary school in a few short weeks. The program was enhanced by the Head Start Act of 1981. In December 2007, the program was updated and reauthorized. More than 22 million kids had participated as of the end of 2005.

Around 700,000 kids enrolled in the early years at a cost of $2,000 to $3,000 per person (2011 dollars). By the early 1970s, membership in the full-time program had decreased to under 400,000. By 2011, enrollment had nearly reached 1 million kids.

Budget and Funding of Head Start

Direct grants are given to local governmental agencies, private groups, Indian tribes, and school systems via the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Regional Offices and the American Indian - Alaska Native, Migrant and Seasonal Program Branches.

Through a program called In Kind, each Head Start classroom or center "repays" the money. The In kind initiative enables parents and children to collaborate on extracurricular learning.

Local grantees are required to match funds/in-kind by 20%. If a local grantee receives more than $500,000 in federal funding, they are all obligated to obtain an annual financial audit.

Who is Eligible for Head Start Program ?

Head Start services are available to low-income families with children from birth to age five. Head Start programs enroll children whose family income is at or below the poverty level, according to the Poverty Guidelines.

Regardless of household income, children experiencing homelessness, children in foster care and children from families receiving public assistance like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are all eligible.

Up to 10% of children from households earning more than the poverty line, head Start programs may enroll. If the program can ensure that certain conditions have been satisfied, it may also serve up to an additional 35% of children from families whose earnings are above the Poverty Guidelines, but below 130 percent of the poverty line. Women who are pregnant may also be qualified for Early Head Start.

Which Services Provided by Head Start ?

Children from low-income families who are between the ages of 0 and 5 can participate in Head Start programs for no cost. To ensure that registered children can engage on a regular basis, programs may offer transportation to the facilities. Children in the foster care system, homeless families, and families with children are also eligible. Children with disabilities and other special needs can also access Head Start services.

Services provided by Head Start programs are provided by 1,600 organisations in local communities. Schools, community action agencies, and non-profit groups manage the majority of Head Start programs. Every year, they offer services to more than 1 million kids across all states and territories in the United States.

Head Start programs support children's growth in a positive learning environment through a range of services, such as: 

1) Early learning and Development :
Through tailored learning experiences, children's preparation for school and beyond is promoted. Children develop in many areas through interactions with adults, play, and planned and unplanned instruction. These include knowledge of social skills, emotional stability, language and reading abilities, math, and scientific principles. Each child's and family's cultural and linguistic history are appropriately incorporated into early learning experiences. Parents are seen as the first and most important teachers for children, along with grandparents, foster parents, and other major caregivers. Their understanding of their kids is essential to each child's unique approach. Additionally, to help each child make a smooth transition to kindergarten, Head Start programs collaborate with families, school districts, and other organisations.

2) Family Well-being :
Program services are made available to parents and families to improve family well-being and help them accomplish family objectives like stable housing, ongoing education, and financial security. Programs involve families in the education and growth of their children while fostering and enhancing parent-child interactions.

3) Health :
Early learning possibilities that require children to fully explore and experience their world depend on their physical and mental development. Programs like Head Start offer both indoor and outdoor learning environments that are secure and healthful. To ensure that kids are getting the care and attention they require, programs connect families with medical, dental, and mental health services, and all kids receive health screenings and nourishing meals. Children are helped in developing their resilience to deal with any potential negative repercussions of trauma. Additionally, families receive mental health counselling that is tailored to their child's requirements.

How to Apply for Head Start Program ?

To apply for Head Start, use the Head Start Locator to find a Head Start program near you. Call (toll-free) 866-763-6481 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. or use the Contact form, if you need additional help.

You may learn more about the requirements for enrolling your child in Head Start at your local center. They will respond to your inquiries, provide necessary paperwork, and inform you of the essential application materials. Not all eligible youngsters may attend due to the government's restricted funding. Ask the program to add your family to the wait list if there isn't currently a spot available for your child.

Head Start Contact

Call 1-866-763-6481 (toll-free) or use the Head Start Center Locator to discover a Head Start program in your area.

Frequently Asked Questions About Head Start

Does My Child Qualify for Early Head Start or Head Start ?
According to the federal government's Poverty Guidelines, children from birth to age five from low-income households are eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services.

Why was Head Start program created?
In order to stop the cycle of poverty, the Head Start program started as an eight-week experimental project. It provided preschoolers from low-income families with a comprehensive program to address their emotional, social, health, nutritional, and educational needs.

How Do I Find a Head Start Near Me?
You can use the online national Head Start Center Locator or call the Head Start Information and Communications Center toll-free at 1-866-763-6481 if you need assistance locating a Head Start program in your area.

In the US, what age is head start?
A free education program called Head Start is available to qualified children from birth to age five. For eligible families, the Head Start and Early Head Start programs offer free learning and development services.

Do Foster Children Qualify for Head Start?
Regardless of parental income, foster children are eligible for Head Start.

Does Head Start accept children with special needs or disabilities?
Children with disabilities who are determined to be eligible for special education and related programs or early intervention services must make up at least 10% of the total number of children actually enrolled by each Head Start agency and each delegate agency starting in the fiscal year 2009.

What Happens If My Income Is Above the Poverty Guidelines?
Up to 10% of children in Head Start programs may originate from households earning more than the federal poverty threshold. A further 35% of children from households whose incomes are above the poverty guidelines but below the program's defined poverty level may be served by the programs.

What the Other Alternatives If My Child Is Ineligible For Head Start?
The Child Care Aware program will assist you in finding alternate childcare providers in your area, if you are not qualified for Head Start. Please call Child Care Aware toll-free at 800-424-2246 or visit the website http://www.childcareaware.org/ to locate the nearest child care resource and referral organisation.

How Do I Participate in Head Start?
Volunteers are welcome at Head Start. You may support parent education, lend a hand during center renovations, assist in the classroom and on field excursions by volunteering. Your voluntary work may subsequently qualify you for training that may aid in your employment search in the child care industry. Please get in touch with your local Head Start program for more details about volunteering. Visit the online national Head Start Center Locator to find a program close to you.

Who profits from Head Start the most?
The women received direct benefits from Head Start, such as higher adult incomes and higher educational attainment, which may have had a variety of effects on their children. Increases in family income have been found to enhance children's well being and academic performance, according to other study.

Does my family qualify for the Head Start?
If your household income is at or below the poverty line, your family is eligible for the Head Start program. To find out if your family is eligible, consult the Poverty Guidelines. Families with children in foster care or who are homeless as well as those who receive public assistance (TANF, SSI, or SNAP), regardless of income, are also eligible.

How can I submit a Head Start application?
Speak with the Head Start program in your area. They'll assist you in determining whether your child is eligible, provide you with the necessary forms, and inform you of the supporting documentation you'll need to provide. You can ask to be put on the waiting list if there isn't a spot available for your child. To locate a Head Start program close to your house, use the Head Start Center Locator. To learn what comes next in the process, call the number provided.