Head Start is a federally funded program serving low-income children and their families. The goal of Head Start is to give your child the best social, educational, physical, and emotional preparation to start kindergarten.
What Services Does Head Start Provide?
- half-day preschool classes for children ages 3 to 5
- family health services
- prenatal and infant development education
- specialized programs for migrant worker families and indigenous Americans
- home visits to teach parents more about development
- various classes for parents (job training, health and nutrition, learning English, etc.)
- assistance for parents who are in school
- connections to other community resources/support
- and many others
The best way to find out what Head Start services are offered near you is to contact your local programs. This locator can help you find the nearest programs and their contact information.
Who’s Eligible for Head Start?
Every location has individual eligibility policies, but usually:
- families below the poverty line
- families receiving TANF or SSI support
- children who are homeless or in foster care
- children with disabilities
These groups are given priority, but that doesn’t mean other families won’t be eligible. Legally, 10 percent of children in Head Start can be from above the poverty line, so all families are encouraged to apply.
How Do I Sign Up?
Each location has its own registration process, so contact your local program to find out how to sign up. The employees there will be able to answer your questions and provide you with the necessary forms. You’ll likely also have to bring various documents, such as birth certificates and tax forms.
Due to limited funding for the program, there might not be a space for your child at the moment. If this is the case, you can always ask to be put on a waiting list.
By Stella Masucci