Head Start & Early Head Start Overview

Download the Head Start and Early Head Start overview for more information about Head Start services and comprehensive approach

Since 1965, Head Start’s locally-run programs have been at the forefront in partnering with families and communities to give young children and their families from at-risk backgrounds the skills they need to succeed in school and in life. From early math and reading skills, to confidence and resilience, Head Start helps children build the skills they need to be successful in school and life. Head Start takes a comprehensive approach to meeting the needs of young children and their families.

Depending on both community and family needs, Head Start services may be delivered in a center, at a family child care home, or as a home visiting model. Regardless of the model, there are five high-quality elements that are the essential to Head Start. Here’s the overview:


Built on research-based curriculum and social-emotional learning in order to achieve kindergarten-readiness through developing literacy, exploring numeracy, and establishing a love of learning.


Includes mental health and dental health, ensuring that children have access to health insurance, regular screenings and check-ups, and medical and dental primary care providers. Programs work with families to streamline the process for accessing necessary medical attention, prevention, and intervention services.


Addresses child and family hunger by providing access to daily food, developing connections to other benefit programs, such as SNAP and WIC, and educating families about nutrition at home.

Multigenerational Approach

Addresses the needs of parents and caregivers—from job training and English as an Additional Language courses, to leadership skill development and financial planning—to bolster long-term outcomes for both children and their families.

Locally Governed

With roots in the civil rights movement, Head Start programs are governed by a system of joint governance that is designed to promote maximum feasible community participation including prominent oversight roles for parents and caregivers.

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