Program Planning

Serving Families with Multiple Children in the Home-Based Option

Tip Sheet LogoIntroduction

The Head Start Program Performance Standards state that each child enrolled in the program must receive individualized services. In the home-based option, home visitors provide services during a weekly home visit that is at least 90 minutes long. When a family has more than one child enrolled in services, it can be challenging to meet the needs of each child in a 90-minute visit. For example, a home visit that meets the needs of a 6-month-old looks very different than a visit with a 3- or 4-year-old. Each child's cognitive, social, emotional, language, and motor development differs. Home visits might need to be longer so there is enough time to serve all enrolled children.

Programs that provide home-based services:

  • Have an average caseload of 10–12 families per home visitor
  • Have a maximum caseload of 12 families per home visitor
    • No minimum caseload number
  • May assign fewer families to a home visitor, if warranted, based on family circumstances, the number of enrolled children with disabilities or suspected delays in the home, or logistical issues


  • Home visits build on each child's skills and needs. They also align with the Head Start Early Learning Outcome Framework: Ages Birth to Five (ELOF) and state early learning and development standards, as appropriate. 
  • Home visitors and parents plan how home visits are delivered. This way, each enrolled child receives individualized services within the family's schedule.
  • Home visitors document plans for each family and share them with their supervisors. These plans help supervisors make sure each family receives appropriate services. 
  • Home visitors and families keep track of how effectively the home visiting plan meets the needs of each child. As children grow and family circumstances change, home visitors and families decide together to make changes to the home visiting plans.  
  • Supervisors use plans to assess home visitors' assignments and caseload size so that home visitors have enough time to provide services to each child and family. 

Home visitor helping a parent and child read a bookHead Start Program Performance Standards

Home-based option, 45 CFR §1302.22

  • (b) Caseload
  • (c) Service duration
    • (c)(1)(i) Early Head Start
    • (c)(2)(i) Head Start

Education in home-based programs, 45 CFR §1302.35

  • (a) Purpose
  • (b) Home-based program design
  • (c) Home visit experiences
  • (d) Home-based curriculum
  • (f) Screening and assessments


Early Childhood Curriculum Resources

Home Visitors Handbook: Home-Based Service Delivery