Eligibility Verification

Head Start eligibility requirements describe how to prioritize and enroll those children and families most in need of program services. The requirements also show how to identify the program option that best meets those needs. Ensuring equity throughout these requirements serves to strengthen all eligibility efforts.

Questions for Consideration

  • What practices do staff use to ensure that the eligibility verification process is culturally and linguistically responsive and respectful to families of all backgrounds? What professional development does staff receive on conducting culturally and linguistically responsive eligibility interviews with families?
  • Are application forms and materials available in multiple languages and formats (e.g., paper and virtual)? Do the forms and application materials follow gender-inclusive language guidelines? Are these materials inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities?
  • What strategies do staff use to remain nonjudgmental, strengths-based, and trauma-informed to all subgroups and special populations? Do staff specifically consider LGBTQ+ parents, families experiencing homelessness, foster families, children with disabilities, families with chronic illnesses or mental health conditions, and additional groups of families?
  • How do you work with families when they do not have the requested verification documentation? For example, is your program flexible when serving families experiencing homelessness who may need additional time to submit documentation?
  • How do you work with families who may feel hesitant, fearful, or distrusting of a process requiring them to share personal information?
  • How do you support families who may be navigating the payment process for child care subsidies?