Head Start programs offer families support services and the chance to participate as full partners in their child's education. Parents can refer to these FAQs to learn more about the national program.
Is my child eligible for the Head Start or Early Head Start program?
Children from birth to age 5 from families with low income, according to the federal Poverty Guidelines, are eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services.
Children in foster care, children experiencing homelessness, and children from families receiving public assistance (TANF, SSI, or SNAP) are categorically eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services regardless of income.
Head Start programs may enroll up to 10% of children from families that have incomes above the Poverty Guidelines. Programs may also serve up to an additional 35% of children from families whose incomes are above the Poverty Guidelines, but below 130% of the poverty line if the program can ensure that certain conditions have been met.
Pregnant women and pregnant people may also be eligible for Early Head Start services.
How do I find a Head Start program near me?
If you need help finding a program in your area, use the Head Start Center Locator or call the Head Start Information and Communications Center at (toll-free) 866-763-6481.
Are children in foster care eligible for Head Start services?
Children in foster care are Head Start-eligible, regardless of family income.
Do Head Start programs accept children with disabilities or special needs?
Programs must ensure at least 10% of its total funded enrollment is filled by children eligible for services under Section 619 or Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
What if my income level is higher than the Poverty Guidelines?
Head Start programs may enroll up to 10% of children from families that have incomes above the Poverty Guidelines. Programs may also serve up to an additional 35% of children from families whose incomes are above the Poverty Guidelines, but below 130% of the poverty line if the program can ensure certain conditions are met. Contact your local Head Start program for more information.
What are the other options if my child is ineligible for Head Start services?
If you are ineligible for Head Start services, ChildCare.gov can help you locate other child care services in your community.
How can I get involved with the Head Start program?
Head Start programs welcome volunteers! You can help in the classroom and on field trips, assist in renovating centers, and support parent education. Your volunteer experience may qualify as training for employment in the child care field. For information about volunteering, please contact your local Head Start program.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Office of Head Start
Last Updated: May 22, 2023