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Head Start Program Performance Standards Basics

On-Demand • Online • 2 PD Hours

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Head Start Basics Series:

What makes Head Start the most high-quality early childhood education program? Explore the revolutionary Head Start Program Performance Standards. First introduced in 1975, this concept inspired a federal standards initiative for public schools and continues to help programs improve and find new ways to help children and their families across the nation.


The Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) are the regulations that govern Head Start programs. They were first introduced in 1975 and outline mandatory requirements for grantees to ensure that all Head Start programs provide high quality, comprehensive services that support school readiness. The HSPPS 101 course provides an overview of the HSPPS for learners and helps them develop an understanding of how this applies to their work. 

Every Head Start and Early Head Start staff member needs to understand these overarching requirements! This hour-long course covers everything from program operations to administrative procedures and includes the changes from the final rule on September 1, 2016, which put in place higher standards based on years of research and effective practice. 

Upon completing the course, learners will feel comfortable navigating the standards. The content is designed to make the program requirements easier to understand and to reduce the administrative burden so that Head Start staff can focus on helping children and developing the skills and abilities they need to succeed in life.

Start Date: Available on-demand

Course Level: Beginner

Requirements/Prerequisites: None

Target Audience: Instruction and Effective Practice, Leadership and Management, Program Operations, Support Services

Course Meeting Times: None

Completion Timeline/Duration: One Month

Alignment with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF): This course supports programs in meeting the HSPPS.

Course Outline

Module Topics:

  • Program Governance
  • Program Operations
    • Eligibility, Recruitment, Selection, Enrollment, and Attendance
    • Program Structure
    • Education and Child Development Program Services
    • Health Program Services
    • Family and Community Engagement Program Services
    • Additional Services for Children with Disabilities
    • Transition Services
    • Services to Enrolled Pregnant Women
    • Human Resources Management
    • Program Management and Quality Improvement
  • Financial and Administrative Requirements
  • Federal Administrative Procedures

Learning Objectives:

  • Learners will understand the reason HSPPS exist and the level of responsibility they bring to all staff at Head Start programs. 
  • Learners will be able to identify where they can find resources to support them when needing more detailed information about the HSPPS. 
  • Learners will be able to identify the overarching requirements by section and subpart.

Course Author

Dr. Deborah Bergeron

Dr. Deborah Bergeron

Dr. B served as director of the Office of Head Start from 2018-21. From 2019-21 she broadened her leadership as director of the Office of Early Childhood Development in the Administration for Children and Families. Known as "Dr. B" to former students and teachers, she spent three decades in pre-K–12 public education as a classroom teacher and school administrator. She currently serves as deputy director for Community Engagement and Innovation at the National Head Start Association.

Available exclusively on


  • Online, Self-paced Content
  • 1 Hour of Course Material
  • Video Content
  • 45 Days of Access to Online Course
  • Digital Badge
  • Certificate of Completion with Professional Development Hours
  • 24/7 Access to Transcript

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