OHS Health Priorities
Healthy Nutrition and Physical Activity
Head Start is actively involved in the nation's efforts to decrease the rate of children classified as overweight or obese. Through activities that promote healthy nutrition and physical activity, Head Start programs make a huge impact on the healthy development of children and families.
Developmental and Behavioral Services
Head Start and Early Head Start programs promote lifelong health for the children and adults in their communities. The programs help families find medical homes, stay current on all of their health needs, and receive the appropriate mental health services.
Child Safety and Injury Prevention
Identifying risks and preventing injury is fundamental to Head Start's mission. Programs strive to create safe and secure places for children to learn, whether they are enrolled in home-based, center-based, or family child care options.
Working with families and staff to build their health skills and knowledge is a core part of the work of each Head Start and Early Head Start program. When adults understand and model strong health practices, children are more likely to embrace them as well.
Oral Health and Dental Homes
Head Start recognizes the critical nature of oral health for children's optimal development. Each program works with families and local oral health professionals to ensure that all children and pregnant women have dental homes that offer regular care and follow-up treatment.
Asthma Prevention and Healthy Environments
The children and families served by Head Start programs may be more likely to live in places where they are exposed to smoking, and other air pollutants and toxins. Therefore, it is important that staff support families in building healthy environments through a variety of strategies.
The Affordable Care Act and Head Start
Beginning in 2014, many more Head Start family members—including parents, older siblings, and grandparents under age 65—may qualify for coverage. Programs can contribute to the outreach efforts by applying some of the suggestions found in 10 Ways Your Head Start Program Can Promote New Health Insurance Opportunities. Early Head Start, Head Start, and child care programs also can play an important role in making sure families know where to get help applying and how to get the coverage they need. Learn more at The Affordable Care Act: What It Means for Children, Families, and Early Childhood Programs.
Head Start, Early Head Start, and other youth-serving organizations, agencies, and professionals are encouraged to explore The Children and Youth Task Force Model. This is a tool designed to guide the development of plans for disaster preparedness and response focusing on the children and youth in their community.
The ECHO Initiative offers a 3-Minute Planning and TA Tool for all birth to three programs. Based on the responses submitted to the TA Tool questions, the system provides links and resources to help plan and sustain up-to-date hearing screening practices.
Events & Conferences
For more information about health services in Head Start, send your questions and requests to email@example.com or call
If you have a medical emergency, contact your local emergency services by dialing 911. For concerns about child abuse and neglect, contact the responsible investigating agency: State Child Abuse Reporting Numbers.
Last Reviewed: February 2012
Last Updated: December 6, 2013