Early Head Start was established in 1994 as part of the reauthorization of the Head Start Act. Early Head Start is a program for low-income teenfamilies with infants and toddlers, and pregnant teens.
The goal of the program is to enhance children's physical, social, emotional, and mental development; to enable parents to be better caregivers and teachers to their children and to help parents meet their own goals, including economic independence.
Early Head Start:
- Provides early, individualized child development and parent education services to low-income families with infants and toddlers according to a plan developed jointly by the parents and staff
- Provides these services through an appropriate mix of home visits and experiences at the Early Head Start center
- Provides early opportunities for infants and toddlers with and without disabilities to grow and develop together in nurturing and inclusive settings
- Ensures that the Early Head Start program is supportive and nurturing to families
- Responds to the needs of families, including, where appropriate, the need for child care while families attend school or work
- Connects with other service providers at the local level to ensure that a comprehensive array of health, nutrition, and other services is provided to the program's pregnant women, very young children, and their families
- Recruits, trains, and supervises high quality staff, ensuring the kind of warm and continuous relationships between caregivers and children that are crucial to learning and development for infants and toddlers
- Ensures parent involvement in policy and decision making
- Coordinates with local Head Start and other child development programs in order to ensure continuity of services for these children and families
For more information on Early Head Start, please contact the Early Head Start National Resource Center at www.ehsnrc.org.