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Head Start - Everything You Need to Know

Part 2 of 2 - Eligibility & Application

Am I Eligible? How Can My Family Apply?
Eligibility for Head Start and Early Head Start is largely income based. Families must earn less than 100% of the Federal Poverty level. Individuals with disabilities may not have to meet certain income requirements. Families who may be dealing with homelessness, have children in foster care, or are receiving SSI or TANF may also be eligible. Your local Head Start office will help you determine eligibility.

You must apply at your local Head Start office. Your local program will guide you through the application process and will let you know what you need in order to apply. You can find a local Head Start program by using the Head Start Locator. Government funding is limited, and not all eligible children will be served. If you are denied due to lack of space, be sure to ask if your family can be put on the waiting list.

Benefits of Head Start
Head start offers many comprehensive services including:

Early Learning
Health, development and behavior screenings
Education on health and safety for all members of the family
Social and emotional development
Nutrition education for the whole family
Family goal setting
Transition services
Services for children with disabilities
Social services

Comprehensive services are offered in a learning environment that is respectful of each child and their family's ethnic, cultural and linguistic heritage.

Head Start does its best to ensure that all preschool aged children in the program are ready for school. School readiness is very important and Head Start works with families to support their children's learning.

School readiness in the Head Start program is measured by looking at the skills in the five domains of the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework:

Language and Literacy
Cognition and General Knowledge
Approaches to Learning
Physical Development and Health
Social and Emotional Development

Head Start recognizes that parents are their child's primary teachers and strives to make sure that families are engaged in their child's learning and development.

How Many Benefit from Head Start Programs?
Each year over a million children are served by Head Start programs. In 2014 Head Start programs served more than 880,000 children and their families. The Early Head Start program served nearly 150,000 children and nearly 15,000 pregnant women.

As our children become school we want them to enter ahead of the class and ready for anything. The goal of Head Start is to ensure just that. Head Start not only educates children, they educate families. They understand that schools need to work with parents and children to promote healthy families and to make sure that parents are engaged in their children's learning. It is a vital program not just for the present, but for our nation's future.