Home-Based Staff Qualifications, Knowledge, and Skills

Parents reading a book to their children.Both the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) and the Head Start Act require home visitors to have certain knowledge, experience, and skills. (See Home Visitor Staff Qualifications, Knowledge, and Skills in the Home Visitor’s Online Handbook.)

Staff qualifications and competency requirements (45 CFR §1302.91(e)(6)) requires home visitors to:

  • Have a minimum of a home-based child development associate (CDA) or comparable credential or equivalent coursework as part of an associate's or bachelor's degree.
  • Demonstrate competency to plan and implement home-based learning experiences that:
    • Ensure effective implementation of the home visiting curriculum
    • Promote children's progress across the standards described in the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework, including for children with disabilities and children who are dual language learners, as appropriate
    • Build respectful, culturally responsive, and trusting relationships with families

As described in 45 CFR §1302.91(a), Head Start and Early Head Start programs must ensure that all staff members, consultants, and contractors have the knowledge, training, experience, and competencies to fulfill the roles and responsibilities of their position to provide high-quality services. Home visitors need many competencies, as their work is very complex. They need knowledge and skills in:

  • Structured, child-focused home visiting that promotes parents' ability to support the child's cognitive, social and emotional, language and literacy, and physical development and approaches to learning
  • Effective, strengths-based parent education, including methods to encourage parents as their child's first teacher
  • Early childhood development for children from birth through age 5
  • Methods to help parents promote emergent literacy in their children from birth through age 5, including use of research-based strategies to support the development of literacy and language skills for children with limited proficiency in English
  • Determination of health and developmental services the family receives and the ability to work with service providers to eliminate gaps in service, e.g., annual health, vision, hearing, and developmental screening for children from birth to entry into kindergarten, when needed
  • Strategies for helping families coping with crisis
  • The relationship of health and well-being of pregnant women to prenatal and early child development

Learn More

Educational Requirements for Head Start Staff: A Series of Briefs

To meet Head Start regulations, all programs must ensure they have qualified staff. The required educational requirements and skills differ for the many roles and positions in Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Use these briefs to help determine and justify how your employees meet the requirements.

Steps Local Agencies Can Use to Determine Credential or Degree Equivalency

Head Start and Early Head Start agencies must ensure they have qualified staff. The HSPPS include equivalency provisions for some staff roles as part of the educational requirements. Local agencies have flexibility in determining and justifying how their employees meet the educational equivalency qualification requirements. The steps outlined in this resource help guide agencies in the equivalency determination and justification process.