What Access and Equity Mean to ERSEA

Learn what it means for Head Start programs to promote access and equity in ERSEA activities.


Access to early care and education means that parents, with reasonable effort and affordability, can enroll their child in an arrangement that supports the child’s development and meets the parents’ needs.


Equity means fair and just treatment to all children, families, and those who support them, enabling everyone to achieve their full potential.

Equity promotes consistent, systemic, and fair access to comprehensive services and systems for everyone, including chronically underserved populations such as:

  • African American, Black, Latino, Hispanic, Indigenous, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian American, Pacific Islander, or other people of color
  • Members of religious minorities
  • Members of the LGBTQ+ community
  • People with disabilities or other delays
  • People who live in rural areas
  • People adversely affected by persistent poverty or other forms of inequality

Equity means ensuring:

  • An anti-bias and nurturing environment where children, families, and staff feel seen, heard, and acknowledged, and where they have a sense of belonging and a connection to their community
  • Resources, opportunities, systems, policies, and supports that enable each child to reach their highest level of learning and life potential and that enable all providers, staff, and families to reach their highest level of life potential
  • Program-level protective, promotive, and supportive factors, including:
    • Effective and inclusive program leadership and governance practices that operate with a social justice lens
    • Culturally sensitive parent and family engagement
    • Developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate teaching and learning practices
    • Facilitated access to high-quality health and behavioral health services for children, families, and staff
  • A commitment to meaningfully engage the voices of the communities that have been historically marginalized and that are served across early childhood and school-age care systems, including:
    • Local MSHS) and AIAN Head Start programs
    • State, territory, and tribal child care systems
    • Child care in all settings, including family child care homes and family, friend, and neighbor care