Policy & Regulations

The Head Start Program Performance Standards

The Head Start Program Performance Standards define standards and minimum requirements for the entire range of Head Start services. They apply to both Head Start and Early Head Start programs. They serve as the foundation for Head Start’s mission to deliver comprehensive, high-quality individualized services supporting the school readiness of children from low-income families

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) published a Final Rule on Sept. 1­­, 2016 revising the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) to strengthen and improve the quality of Head Start programs. The streamlined Standards were the first comprehensive revision of the HSPPS since they were originally published in 1975.

The HSPPS reflect best practices and the latest research on early childhood development and brain science. They give grantees flexibility in achieving positive child and family outcomes, and encourage the use of data to track progress and reach goals in all program areas.

Read the Standards, or download the Standards in PDF.

Find more about the HSPPS on the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) website.

Head Start Act

On Dec. 12, 2007, President Bush signed Public Law 110-134 Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007, reauthorizing the Head Start program through Sept. 30, 2012.

Program Instructions

A Program Instruction (PI) addresses a specific requirement that Head Start grantees and delegate agencies must implement in their programs.

Information Memorandum

An Information Memorandum (IM) is a targeted communication tool from the Office of Head Start which provides policy information to Head Start and Early Head Start grantees and delegate agencies.

Last Reviewed: November 14, 2018