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. HSPPS that are specific to Education and Child Development Services offered through the home-based option include HSPPS 1302.22 and HSPPS 1302.35.

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 option, 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, or a locally designed option. Families may move from one program option to another depending on changing family circumstances and needs. According to the HSPPS in Early Head Start programs, the home-based option may be used to deliver services to some or all of a program's enrolled children. A Head Start program serving preschool-aged children may not provide only the home-based option.