About NHSA

The National Head Start Association's mission is to coalesce, inspire, and support the Head Start field as a leader in early childhood development and education. We hold the belief that every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, has the ability to succeed in life. We are the voice for more than 800,000 million children, 250,000 staff, and 1,600 grant recipients in the U.S.

NHSA's vision is to lead—to be the untiring voice that will not be quiet until every income-eligible child can access the Head Start model of support for the whole child, the family and the community—and to advocate—to work for policy and institutional changes that ensure all children and families have what they need to succeed.

We envision a future where:

  • The Head Start voice is powerful and united;
  • The Head Start field is a valued partner and resource to early childhood development and education;
  • There is nonpartisan support for increased federal commitment to Head Start; and
  • Our children are healthier, our families empowered, our communities stronger and more vibrant.

Your voice. Our collective impact.

NHSA is the central association for the Head Start workforce and serves as the national voice for early childhood education and leadership on Capitol Hill.

Since 1974, the work of NHSA—with and on behalf of the Head Start field—is varied and far-reaching. When sequestration cut 57,000 Head Start slots and threatened to remove even more children from their programs, NHSA worked with Congress to restore all Head Start’s funds. When the federal government shut down, NHSA raised $4 million in emergency philanthropic funding so imapcted programs could continue serving children and families.

We Stand Together

Becoming an NHSA member connects you with a movement. Beyond advocacy in Washington, D.C., NHSA engages Head Start alumni, parents, and champions across the country to tell the Head Start story. Whatever Head Start is to you, there’s a place at NHSA to make a difference. Find the one that’s right for you.

    Together we can move mountains for Head Start children, families, and communities.
    Head Start graduates are living proof points of the transformative impact of Head Start.
    NHSA offers the most comprehensive professional development program focussed explicitly on Head Start and Early Head Start. The Academy at NHSA, alongside our national conferences and policy institutes, provide training to more than 6,000 staff, parents and teachers each year.
    NHSA produces a large volume of material in support of the Head Start community, including coverage of the latest in federal and state policy developments, effective practice, and research.
    Get involved in one of NHSA's initiatives dedicated to our advancing Head Start's core issues.
    Dollar per Child is NHSA's annual campaign that helps us ensure millions of children and families are represented in Washington, D.C. You can also donate to our other campaigns.

Happy Birthday Head Start!

For the last six decades, Head Start and Early Head Start have changed the lives of more than 37 million children and their families.


Head Start Awareness Month

Every October, we celebrate Head Start’s historical roots, current impact, and lasting legacy by bringing awareness to Head Start and Early Head Start’s work nationwide.


NHSA History

From the very beginning, it was clear that advocacy would be the driving force behind any organization formed to support Head Start. Faced with the threat of potential closures of Community Action Agencies, program directors formed the National Directors Association in 1974. Within a year's time, the Head Start Parent Association, Head Start Staff Association, and Head Start Friends Association developed. In 1990, the four affiliate associations merged to form the National Head Start Association (NHSA). In doing so, they extended their mission advocate to expand access to Head Start model of support for the whole child, the family and the community for every income-eligible child.

NHSA Board of Directors

NHSA’s board of directors continues to reflect the original affiliate structure with parent, staff, director, and friend representatives from each of Head Start’s 12 regions.

Women in Head Start’s History: Marian Wright Edelman and Susan Feingold

Marian Wright Edelman and Susan Feingold embodied Head Start’s mission from the beginning, creating programs rooted in equity and community.

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President’s Day and the History of Head Start

Head Start has been transforming the lives of Americans through 11 presidential administrations. In honor of President’s Day, we reflect on our history.

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Black History Month: A Reflection on Head Start History

In honor of Black History Month, we reflect on just how deeply intertwined Head Start’s history is with that of the Civil Rights Movement.

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