Head Start is a child development program for children from birth to age 5. Head Start provides services to promote academic, social and emotional development, as well as providing social, health and nutrition services for children and families.
Goals of the Head Start
- To enhance children’s physical, social, emotional and cognitive development.
- To enable parents to be better caregivers and teachers to their children.
- To help parents meet their own goals, including economic independence.
Is My Child Eligible?
Children who are 3 to 5 years old are eligible for Head Start services. Pregnant women and children from birth to 3 years of age are eligible for Early Head Start services. Children birth-5 years of age, whose families are Migrant or Seasonal Farm workers, are eligible for Migrant/Seasonal Head Start services.
Children and families who are homeless, in foster care, or receive TANF or SSI are also eligible for services. Eligibility is determined by Head Start program staff and some families may be eligible for services if they are determined to be at or below the federal poverty level. Click here for information on the poverty guidelines. Some grantees enroll a percentage of children from families with incomes above the Poverty Guidelines as well.
Families are encouraged to apply. Programs begin recruitment for the next program year in early Spring.
School Readiness: Head Start prepares children for school by teaching them to listen, speak clearly, follow directions, solve problems, and use numbers and words.
Social: Head Start teaches children to respect others and how to cooperate and resolve differences.
Health: Head Start reinforces personal and dental hygiene and provides daily nutrition and health screenings and follow-up care by medical and dental professionals.
Disabilities: Head Start welcomes children with disabilities and provides services from specially trained teachers. At least 10 percent of Head Start participants have physical, social or intellectual disabilities.
Through personal counsel, resource-sharing, Head Start helps family members with academic, child rearing, jobs and housing issues.
Parents and grandparents volunteer in the classroom or on field trips and on Policy Council, which guides each local program.
Head Start partners with community groups and businesses to link children and families with resources such as medical/dental care, child care or job training.
The dedication of Head Start staff is reinforced by many opportunities to learn and grow in their profession. Up to 5 percent of program budgets go to staff education and training.