Background Information on Early Head Start Home-Based Model

This resource provides background information on the Early Head Start Home-Based Model for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program grantees. 

The Early Head Start (EHS) Home-Based Model is administered by the Office of Head Start in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Early Head Start home-based program is one of Head Start’s comprehensive program options designed to meet the needs of low-income pregnant women and families of infants and toddlers. In the 2010 enrollment year, there were 43,796 EHS federally funded enrollment slots for infants and toddlers. This constitutes about 45% of the national EHS funded enrollment for infants and toddlers. 

In addition to home-based, the range of EHS program options includes center-based, Family Child Care, combination of center- and home-based, and locally designed options. Within this array, the home-based option is designed for families in which the home is the child's primary learning environment, either due to family choice or life circumstances that prevent them from participating in more structured settings.

Early Head Start is a comprehensive, two-generation federal initiative aimed at enhancing the development of infants and toddlers while strengthening families.

  • An emphasis on high quality which recognizes the critical opportunity of EHS programs to positively impact children and families in the early years and beyond.
  • Prevention and promotion activities that both promote healthy development and recognize and address atypical development at the earliest stage possible.
  • Positive relationships and continuity which honor the critical importance of early attachments on healthy development in early childhood and beyond. The parents are viewed as a child’s first, and most important, relationship.
  • Parent involvement activities that offer parents a meaningful and strategic role in the program’s vision, services, and governance. 
  • Inclusion strategies that respect the unique developmental trajectories of young children in the context of a typical setting, including children with disabilities.
  • Cultural competence which acknowledges the profound role that culture plays in early development. Programs also recognize the influence of cultural values and beliefs on both staff and families’ approaches to child development. Programs work within the context of home languages for all children and families.
  • Comprehensiveness, flexibility and responsiveness of services which allow children and families to move across various program options over time, as their life situation demands.  
  • Transition planning respects families' need for thought and attention paid to movements across program options and into—and out of—Early Head Start programs. 
  • Collaboration is, simply put, central to an Early Head Start program's ability to meet the comprehensive needs of families. Strong partnerships allow programs to expand their services to families with infants and toddlers beyond the door of the program and into the larger community. 

Background Information on Early Head Start Home-Based Model. HHS/ACF/OHS. 2011. English.

Last Reviewed: May 2011

Last Updated: November 13, 2014