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What Is the Head Start Program?

The Head Start program provides free comprehensive learning and development services to children ages birth to 5 and pregnant women from low-income families. It prepares America’s most vulnerable young children to succeed in school and in life beyond school. To achieve this, Head Start programs deliver services to children and families in core areas of early learning, health, and family well-being while engaging parents as partners every step of the way.

Head Start encompasses Head Start preschool programs, which primarily serve 3- and 4-year-old children, and Early Head Start programs for infants, toddlers, and pregnant women. All programs welcome children with disabilities and children who are dual language learners. 

Are You Eligible?

Head Start programs enroll children whose family income is at or below the poverty level, according to the Poverty Guidelines Visit disclaimer page published by the federal government. Children in foster care, children experiencing homelessness, and children from families receiving public assistance, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Supplemental Security Income, are eligible regardless of income.

How to Apply?

Use the Head Start Locator Visit disclaimer page to find a Head Start, Early Head Start, MSHS, or AIAN program near you. If you need more help, call (toll-free) 866-763-6481, Monday—Friday from 8 a.m. — 6 p.m. ET, or use the Contact Us Visit disclaimer page  form.

Your local Head Start program can help you understand the requirements for enrolling your child. They will answer your questions, provide required forms, and tell you what documents you need to apply. Due to limited government funding, there aren't enough spaces for all eligible children. If there isn't a space for your child at this time, ask the program to put your family on the waitlist.

Select the link to learn more about applying for the Head Start program: Visit disclaimer page


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