3 Overview of the Home-Based Program Option

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Head Start (HS) is a federally funded child development program serving children from birth to age five and pregnant women/expectant families. The Office of Head Start, in the Administration for Children and Families, provides funds directly to local programs. Early Head Start (EHS) is a child development and family support program that serves two generations: pregnant women, infants, toddlers, and their families. Head Start serves children from ages three to five and their families. Migrant and Seasonal Head Start serves infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children in families whose income comes primarily from agricultural work.

All HS programs are authorized by the Congress of the United States through the Improving School Readiness through Head Start Act of 2007. The Act describes the general scope and design of HS/ EHS programs. The Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) define the specific regulations for all programs serving pregnant women, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The HSPPS in 45 CFR 1306.33 describe the requirements for the home-based program option for Head Start. These regulations were developed before the EHS initiative was launched. The Information Memorandum Child Development Services During Home Visits and Socializations in the Early Head Start Home-Based Program Option, ACYF-IM-HS-00-22 clarifies the existing regulations as they apply to infants, toddlers, and their families.

The home-based program option is one of several service delivery models used by HS and EHS programs serving pregnant women/expectant families, infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their families. In the home-based model, the programs provide comprehensive services within the family’s own home and within the context of the parent–child relationship. Your program may also offer center-based, family child care, a combination of options, or a locally designed option. Families may move from one program option to another depending on changing family circumstances and needs.