Head Start and Early Head Start are federally funded child development programs for very low-income individuals. Statewide, the programs serve an estimated 1,000,000 children and families, providing education and other services to those living below the federal poverty line. The primary target population for Project Head Start is children 0-5 years of age and pregnant women. It is based on the premise that all children have certain needs, and low-income children in particular can benefit from a comprehensive program aimed at meeting those needs.
The Head Start Program offers a number of services to qualifying children and families. These include education and special education services, health services, and social services. A large part of the success of Head Start is dependent upon parental involvement.
According to the California Head Start Association, 20.8 percent of Head Start employees are or were Head Start or Early Head Start parents. During this past program year, over 124,734 volunteers provided service to local Head Start programs and 82.7 percent of the volunteers are current or former parents of the local Head Start program.
Children from families receiving public assistance (TANF or SSI) and children in foster care are eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services regardless of income. Approximately 10 percent of enrollments are provided to children with disabilities. When there is space available, children from families with slightly higher income may be able to participate in Head Start as well.
For information on a Head Start Program in your area visit, www.caheadstart.org.
You can also contact the California Head Start Association at (916) 444- 7760.