Designation Renewal System

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as required by Congress, established the Designation Renewal System (DRS) to determine whether Head Start and Early Head Start agencies deliver high-quality and comprehensive services to the families they serve.

Mental Health

Head Start and Early Head Start programs support the mental health of children, families, and staff every day. Early childhood mental health is the same as social and emotional well-being. It is a child’s developing capacity to express and regulate emotions, form trusting relationships, explore, and learn—all in the cultural context of family and community. The mental health of children and the adults that care for them is essential for school readiness.

Curriculum

A high-quality, research-based curriculum promotes measurable progress toward children’s development. The content and learning outcomes of the curriculum align with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) and state early care and education standards.

Children with Disabilities

Young children vary in their skills, knowledge, backgrounds, and abilities. Effective teaching requires individualized teaching and chances to learn for all children to access, participate, and thrive in early learning settings. Individualizing for children who need more support helps ensure effective teaching for children with disabilities and other special needs across all the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework domains.

Local Early Childhood Partnerships

Explore this topic for strategies and promising practices to support children and their families within Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnerships and other local partnerships, such as pre-K. Training and technical assistance (T/TA) staff and EHS-CC Partnership grantees and their child care partners will find resources about partnerships, family child care, and regulations and standards. Also find tools and materials around administration, research, and evaluation.

Oral Health

Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease, but it's preventable. Children with dental pain can have trouble speaking clearly, eating, and learning. Use the resources below to promote a healthy mouth. Learn about proper tooth-brushing and other preventive measures and how to find a dentist.

Teaching Practices

Effective, nurturing, and responsive teaching practices and interactions are key for all learning in early childhood settings. They foster trust and emotional security; are communication and language rich; and promote critical thinking and problem-solving.

Transitions

Children experience many transitions, including from home to an early care and education setting, between age groups or program settings, and from preschool to kindergarten. Supporting these transitions is critically important.

School Readiness

School readiness is foundational across early childhood systems and programs. It means children are ready for school, families are ready to support their children's learning, and schools are ready for children.

Family Engagement

Family engagement is a collaborative and strengths-based process through which early childhood professionals, families, and children build positive and goal-oriented relationships.