The Head Start recruitment process requires full program enrollment. Grantees and delegate agencies can use this tip sheet to establish their programs’ recruitment efforts. Applications are to be taken from as many Head Start-eligible families living within the recruitment areas as possible throughout the course of the program year. This procedure allows for a waiting list to be established so that as vacancies occur, slots are filled as quickly as possible.
Note: This resource is under review.
In order to reach those most in need of Head Start services, each Head Start grantee and delegate agency must develop and implement a recruitment process that is designed to actively inform all families of the availability of services and encourage them to apply. This process may include canvassing the local community, use of public service announcements, and referrals from other agencies. As you plan your recruitment efforts, you may want to consider the following:
- Defining the geographic recruitment area
- Developing a recruitment plan consistent with the community’s goals
- Establishing recruitment goals such as targeting unserved populations (see ACYF-IM-HS-99-09 for more information)
- Identifying specific recruitment strategies that include considerations for linguistic diversity
- Coordinating the agency's community outreach and awareness with other community agencies
- Determining specific strategies to recruit children who have severe disabilities as required in 45 CFR 1308.5(f)
- Establishing collaborations with child care agencies
- Distributing flyers, brochures and other program information.
- Establishing relationships with the local education agencies (LEA) for children who may be eligible for dual placements.
Quick Recruiting Tips
- Put up notices about your program on Bulletin Boards at grocery stores, hardware stores, office Supplies stores, restaurants and schools.
- Send out press releases (print) or public service announcements (broadcast) regularly to the media telling them about things you are doing.
- Talk to all the people you see: gasoline and grocery store cashiers, hairdressers, and sales clerks, and make sure they know about your program.
- Speak at your church and at other area churches. Speak at seminars, conferences. Promote your speaking engagement with flyers, or a press release to community newspapers or radio stations.
- Appear on local community cable shows that have programs geared to the community.
- Contribute articles to your neighborhood newspapers so they are familiar with your program's activities.
- Attend community meetings, speak up and let everyone know who you are and what your program is doing!
- Send out postcards with simple announcements about events at your Head Start program.
- Take out a small quarter page ad in a popular community newspaper. This works best if you put the same ad in each issue of the publication for several months and have the ad positioned in the same place or same section each time.
- Attend conferences, festivals, fairs. Network and pass out your program's flyers and cards.
- Desktop-publish a program newsletter and distribute it widely.
- Write letters to the editor about issues that affect your program. Letters that get printed in magazines and newspapers carry a lot of weight. Call in to radio talk shows. Make your comments and identify yourself and what you do. You never know who may be listening.
- If you see a good promotional idea being used by other programs, try it.
- Phone-a-thon. Call everyone you know and tell them you are recruiting.
- Do a poster or flyer for your program. Put it where the foot traffic is.
- Conduct a survey find out what children services your community wants.
- Make sure your program is listed in all the area phone directories. Specialized community directories too.
- Connect your program with other community campaigns. Help out with the events and share the publicity.
- Hold an Open House. Invite the community to your program. Give tours when it is convenient.
- Sponsor an artist. Have a talented artist do a mural on a wall or help the children do a mural. Publicize the event and invite the community to the opening.
- Frame articles about your program. Keep a notebook of positive press.
- Wear a symbol of your program everywhere, for example, a Head Start button.
- Create a list of the organizations and businesses that have helped or worked with you in the past. Send each one a note to thank them and to tell them you are recruiting.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Program Management and Fiscal Operations
Last Updated: February 8, 2019