Head Start Health Services Newsletters

The Head Start Health Services Newsletter provides current research topics, best practice and updates for the Office of Head Start (OHS). It includes notices and resources from professional organizations, federal agencies, and federal partners to OHS. The newsletter also provides tips for supporting staff and engaging families. Head Start health managers and other early childhood professionals are encouraged to subscribe and to use and share these resources.

December 2016: A Focus on Expectant Families
The recently updated Head Start Program Performance Standards provide guidance related to services for pregnant women and expectant families. This guidance indicates that education and services should be made available to families on topics such as nutrition, parental depression, safe sleep practices, breastfeeding benefits, nurturing and responsive caregiving, and father engagement. Use this newsletter to learn more about each of these topics.

Previous issues of the series have been archived by year. Select a year to start exploring.


November 2016: Winter Safety
The winter season can come with extreme temperatures that require special precautions. This issue provides guidance on how children should be dressed, outdoor safety, and influenza preparedness. Programs can also use this newsletter to review and update their cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting, hand washing, and exclusion policies.

September 2016: Newborn Screening - A Public Health Success Story
Newborn screening is the process of testing babies for specific conditions. Every state has its own newborn screening program with different requirements. Home visitors can use this newsletter to talk with expectant families about what they can expect when their baby is born.

August 2016: What Is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes a person to have recurring seizures. It is the most common childhood brain disorder in the United States affecting nearly 450,000 American children. To best care for children with epilepsy, it is important that early childhood education staff are informed about the condition, its triggers, and treatments. Use this newsletter to help guide an action plan for children in your program and to share home safety information with parents. Also, read it to learn what programs can do to support children with epilepsy.

July 2016: Summer Safety Tips for Early Care and Education Programs
Summer is a great time for outdoor learning. This issue of the newsletter provides tips for early care and education staff on how to protect children from sunburn, insect bites, and other injuries. With planning, programs can make sure that young children play outside safely.

June 2016: Fluoride
Fluoride is an element found in nature, including soil, rocks, and plants. Using fluoride is one of the best and safest ways to maintain oral health and prevent tooth decay. Use this newsletter to learn more about fluoride. Also, find out how to talk to families about fluoride and to get more fluoride resources.

May 2016: The New Head Start Health Services Competencies
The National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness has developed the Head Start Health Services Competencies and Professional Development Assessment. This optional set of tools may help individual staff and their agencies build their capacity to provide high-quality early childhood health services. They are not required by the Head Start Program Performance Standards. Read more about the development of, and possible uses for, the tools in this newsletter.

March 2016: Understanding Nutrition Needs in Early Care and Education
Proper nutrition is important for a child's growth, development, and early learning. Early care and education programs support healthy development by serving healthy foods, and creating a positive eating environment. Programs can also teach children and families about food. A nutrition assessment can help programs engage families and strengthen the program's nutrition services. In this newsletter, learn about what should be included in a nutrition assessment and common feeding concerns. You'll also find examples of questions staff can use to talk with families.

February 2016: Preventing and Managing the Flu
Head Start and other child care programs can take steps to prevent and control influenza. Anyone can get the flu, and certain populations are at an increased risk. Vaccination is the most important step in protecting the community against the flu and its complications. This newsletter offers information on what programs can do to increase immunization, strategies to stop the spread of germs, and clear up misconceptions about the flu vaccine. Also available in Spanish (español).


July 2015: Managing Head Lice
Head lice are a common concern in Head Start and Early Head Start programs. It is estimated six to 12 million infestations occur each year in the United States among children 3 to 11 years of age. While lice often create an uncomfortable symptom—itching—they do not cause disease. This issue of the newsletter discusses head lice policies for programs. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses advocate that early childhood programs discontinue "no-nit" (eggs) policies. Instead, recommendations say that when staff note concerns about lice, the child can stay in the program until the end of the day. He or she should avoid activity that involves "head-to-head contact with other children or sharing of head gear." Further, a child can return to the program after treatment has begun. Available in Spanish (español)

June 2015: Asthma
Asthma is a leading chronic illness among children and youth in the United States. Nearly 7.1 million asthma sufferers are under the age of 18. Children living below the poverty level, especially children in the Northeast, African Americans, and Puerto Ricans, have higher rates of asthma. It can disrupt a child's sleep, ability to concentrate, memory, and participation in program activities. It also is a leading cause of missed school days. Programs can partner with health care providers and families to reduce children's exposure to triggers and recognize early warning signs. Working together can also help promptly treat asthma symptoms and prevent asthma episodes. Available in Spanish (español)

May 2015: One of the Best Gifts for a Baby
One of the most important things women can do for their babies is eat healthy foods during pregnancy. Eating and drinking whole-grain products, fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk and milk products, lean meats, and other nutritious items during pregnancy gives babies a strong start in life. This issue provides information Early Head Start staff can share with pregnant women. The issue also includes descriptions of assistance programs that provide nutrition risk assessment, counseling, and education as well as access to supplemental nutritious foods. Available in Spanish (español)

April 2015: Bed Bugs: Managing the Itch Factor
Bed bugs are found in many places: homes, schools, shelters, hotels, movie theaters, and furniture rental outlets. Your program can create a science-informed approach to supporting families and staff with a bed bug sighting or infestation. Families living with an infestation need ongoing support. Getting rid of bed bugs takes time, patience, and resources. Available in Spanish (español). Note: This resource is under review.

March 2015: Family Style Meals
It is important that Head Start programs partner with families to build healthy eating habits early. One way to do this is to serve meals family-style. Family-style meals are a great way to introduce healthy foods, model healthy behaviors, and provide chances for nutrition education. This newsletter discusses the importance of serving family-style meals in Head Start programs. It also discusses how to serve family-style meals and how to engage families to serve family-style meals at home.

February 2015: The Role of Drinks with Sugar in Children's Oral Health
February is National Children's Dental Health Month, an ideal time to increase awareness of how drinks with sugar add to tooth decay. Some parents don't realize that many drinks they serve to young children contain natural or added sugar. These drinks are a major contributor to tooth decay in children.

January 2015: Healthy Foods from the Ground Up
Good nutrition improves children's health by helping them grow, develop, and maintain a healthy weight. When children are healthy, they are more able to learn and do well in school. This issue features three strategies that may help bring healthier food and a deeper understanding of nutrition to children and families that need it most.


December 2014: Preventing and Managing the Flu
Seasonal influenza (flu) is now active in the United States. Flu viruses are unpredictable. It's wise to do everything possible to protect yourself, fellow Head Start staff, and the children in your program!

November 2014: Strong Connections, Strong Families: Increasing Collaboration between Head Start and the Medical Home
Head Start and Early Head Start programs are committed to children's health. This edition of the newsletter provides new resources to help staff and families work collaboratively with health care providers. Working together leads to a better understanding and response to the needs of children enrolled in Head Start programs.

October 2014: It's Time to Prepare for Emergencies and Disasters
Now is a good time to review your program's plans to address natural disasters relevant to your location. These may include earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis or flash floods, extreme temperatures, storms, and volcanoes. It also is important to be aware of other potential hazards and disasters. Acts of violence, exposure to hazardous agents, facility damage, fire, a missing child, and power outages might happen anywhere. This edition of the health manager's newsletters provides suggestions and resources for reviewing your program's plans.

September 2014: How Do Health Services Support School Readiness?
Children in Head Start have important access to comprehensive health services that help them get ready for school. Programs focus on health because when children are healthy and safe, they can learn. This newsletter discusses how health services support school readiness goals for children.

August 2014: Staff Wellness—Managing Stress
Being a Head Start team member can be both rewarding and demanding. Feeling stress in the workplace is inevitable. However, some stress is natural and can even be healthy. Health managers and other program staff are encouraged to use the information and resources in this issue to support and enhance the healthy active living initiatives.

July 2014: Healthy Active Living
Health managers are in a position to support and enhance the healthy, active living initiatives Head Start programs provide to children and their families. This edition of the newsletter offers strategies to engage staff and parents.

June 2014: A 21st Century Vision for Your Health Services Advisory Committee
This edition of the newsletter focuses on the Health Services Advisory Committee (HSAC). Find suggestions for community partners. Explore strategies for engaging the HSAC in program improvement activities.

May 2014: Summer Safety
As a health manager, you can help staff and families identify and avoid potential dangers related to summer weather. Dangers include outdoor environments, water play, hot vehicles, and other risk factors. Find strategies in this issue of the newsletter.

April 2014: Food Allergies in Head Start
As the health manager, you can help your program prevent and manage allergic food reactions. You can also support children, staff, and families with ways to avoid exposure to food allergens. Find tips in this issue of the Heath Services Newsletter.

March 2014: Head Start Health Manager Networks
Health Manager networks promote program improvement by building relationships and sharing resources. These bonds are formed among those in similar positions across Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Explore the importance of these networks in this issue of the Health Services Newsletter.

February 2014: Dental Home
February is National Children's Dental Health Month. It is an ideal time to promote the importance of oral health. Developing and maintaining good oral health habits and getting regular oral heath care helps children and pregnant women achieve a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

January 2014: It's Flu Season
It's influenza season. The flu virus causes serious illness that may result in hospitalization or death. This newsletter provides strategies health manages can use to protect Head Start staff and children.


November 2013: Helping Families Access Medical Care
Engaging families in preventative health care is an important role of the Head Start and Early Head Start program. A family's relationship with a medical home will provide benefits long after their experience in Head Start. In this issue health managers and program staff can find information to help families' access medical care and to support staff as they encourage families to make health a priority.

October 2013: Screening in Head Start
This issue emphasizes the important chance that exists at the enrollment visit to gather health and nutrition related information. You also can engage families in the health services your program can provide. Head Start and Early Head Start programs can help ensure every child and pregnant woman has access to a medical home for ongoing health care.

September 2013: Get a Head Start on Enrollment
Head Start and Early Head Start programs must assess the growth and development of each child upon enrollment. This edition provides guidance and resources to support health managers and others to identify any developmental, sensory, and behavioral concerns with each child. Assessments allow learning experiences and other services to be tailored to the child's individual needs.

Last Reviewed: February 2017

Last Updated: February 8, 2017