The Office of Head Start (OHS) administers grant funding and oversight to the 1,600 agencies that provide Head Start services in communities across the country. OHS also provides federal policy direction and a training and technical assistance (TTA) system to help grant recipients in providing comprehensive services to eligible young children and their families.
Head Start programs prepare 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 age birth to 5 and their families in core areas of early learning, health, and family well-being. The Head Start program serves about 1 million children and pregnant women in urban, suburban, and rural communities throughout America. Head Start services are provided in centers, family child care homes, or in the family's own home. Learn more about the Head Start approach to providing services to eligible children and families in local programs.
Currently, OHS is prioritizing four key areas: advancing equity, supporting programs' pandemic response and recovery, investing in the workforce, and reaching more children and families.
Congress appropriated $10.7 billion for Head Start funding in fiscal year (FY) 2021. Of that amount, $10.3 billion was awarded directly to public agencies, private nonprofit and for-profit organizations, tribal governments, and school systems to operate Head Start programs in local communities. To improve the quality of services provided by grant recipients, nearly $247 million was directed to TTA. Half that amount was awarded directly to grant recipients to be used for local TTA, and the other half funded the regional and national system. More details about OHS funding and the services provided through this funding can be found in the Head Start program annual fact sheets.
OHS has 12 Regional Offices that support the administration of grants, oversight, and TTA for individual grant recipient agencies. These offices are located in Boston, MA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Kansas City, MO; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; San Francisco, CA; and Seattle, WA. The Regional Offices for American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) programs are located in Washington, DC.
Training and Technical Assistance
The OHS TTA system supports program staff in their delivery of quality services to children and families. The current system consists of three levels of TTA: national, regional, and grant recipient. While each level has distinct and unique functions, they are designed to complement each other. Structured, intentional, high-quality TTA best supports the school readiness of all children and families.
Grant recipients receive at least 50% of all Head Start TTA dollars directly. Grant recipients use these funds in accordance with their training plans to support the needs identified by and specific to their local program. These activities include, but are not limited to:
- Expanding staff qualifications
- Improving the skills teachers need in order to promote language and emergent literacy skills
- Improving management systems and learning environments
- Designing and implementing programs that help parents enhance the language and literacy skills of their own children at home
- Other uses identified by and specific to each individual grant recipient
As grant recipients develop their own training plans, they are encouraged to take time to review what is available at no cost from the National Centers, from their Regional TTA specialists, and from others in their state and local community. In that way, a grant recipient's own TTA dollars can supplement rather than duplicate TTA services that are already available.
There are four categories of Regional TTA specialists: early childhood specialists; grant recipient specialists; health specialists; and systems specialists. Most TTA specialists, at the direction of the Regional Office, provide on-site TTA to grant recipients and are also available to provide training to clusters of grant recipients with similar interests or concerns or at state and regional events.
Reports to Congress
Current and historic information about the Head Start program can be found in the reports that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services submits to Congress. These include:
- Biennial reports — submitted every two years
- Facilities report — submitted every five years
- Head Start monitoring review system reports — submitted every year
- Other periodic reports, such as reports on the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program
These reports are required under the federal law authorizing the Head Start program, Public Law 110-134, Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007.
Last Updated: October 31, 2022