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Getting Young Children and Their Families
Ready for School and Ready for Life

Head Start and Early Head Start are comprehensive programs that facilitates the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development of young children from income-eligible families. Services include education, health, nutrition, screening for developmental delays, and a variety of family social services when needed. 

A child learning about shapes and puzzels

Applying to the Head Start Program

Discover What Head Start Offers

How to Apply and Eligibility

Call 1-866-763-6481 with any questions

Head Start Programs

Head Start programs promote school readiness of children ages birth to five from low-income families by supporting the development of the whole child.

Head Start and Early Head Start programs offer a variety of service models, depending on the needs of the local community. Many Head Start and Early Head Start programs are based in centers and schools. Other programs are located in child care centers and family child care homes.  Some programs offer home-based services that assign dedicated staff who conduct weekly visits to children in their own home and work with the parent.

Head Start programs support children’s growth and development in a positive learning environment through a variety of services, which include:

  • Early learning: Children’s readiness for school and beyond is fostered through individualized learning experiences. Through relationships with adults, play, and planned and spontaneous instruction, children grow in many aspects of development. Children progress in social skills and emotional well-being, along with language and literacy learning, and concept development.

  • Health: Each child’s perceptual, motor, and physical development is supported to permit them to fully explore and function in their environment. All children receive health and development screenings, nutritious meals, oral health and mental health support. Programs connect families with medical, dental, and mental health services to ensure that children are receiving the services they need.

  • Family well-being: Parents and families are supported in achieving their own goals, such as housing stability, continued education, and financial security. Programs support and strengthen parent-child relationships and engage families around children’s learning and development.

Research on the GO

Really well done podcasts from Head Start provides training and technical assistance podcasts from the Office of Head Start. For parents, home visitors, child care providers, directors, teachers, and other staff can access and learn valuable information on the go.  The following are just two of several podcast topics offered at Head Start Talks.

Listen to podcasts anytime. During lunch, in your car, anywhere.  

This podcast series explores some of the latest research in the field of child development, its implications, and practical applications. Listen as experts discuss how research findings can be translated into everyday activities that support infants and toddlers. Designed with early childhood specialists in mind, the series provides an opportunity to think more deeply about ways to support programs' work.

Listen as early childhood experts explain how the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) can support a continuum of learning for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The ELOF is grounded in comprehensive research around what young children should know and be able to do during their early years. This podcast series provides practical and useful information from experts on how to apply the ELOF to specific populations and support teaching domains. Some speakers in this series use the wording "native language" to mean home language. This series is hosted by the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning.

Understanding the ELOF: Stories from Experts



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