Delivering Comprehensive Services in All Head Start Programs

Father and child on floor playing with blocks.As a supervisor, it is important for you to know the scope of services as they are described in the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007 (Head Start Act) and the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS). This information can help you understand the services offered through the home-based option so you can share this information with home visitors, families, program staff, and community partners. (See  Comprehensive Services of All Head Start Programs in the Home Visitor’s Online Handbook.)

The HSPPS provide specific requirements for all program options. Education in home-based programs (45 CFR § 1302.35(a)) tells us that home-based programs must provide home visits and group socialization activities that promote secure parent-child relationships. Programs are also required to help parents provide high-quality early learning experiences in language, literacy, mathematics, social and emotional functioning, approaches to learning, science, physical skills, and creative arts. A program must implement a research-based, home-based curriculum that delivers developmentally, linguistically, and culturally appropriate home visits and group socialization activities that support children's cognitive, social, and emotional growth for later success in school. Service duration (45 CFR § 1302.22(c)) sets the minimum number of home visits and socializations that programs must provide to effectively support families within the home-based program option.

In addition, home-based programs are required to provide a full range of comprehensive services, as described in Home-based option (45 CFR § 1302.22(a)) of the HSPPS. This applies to all Head Start and Early Head Start program options, whether they are center-based, home-based, or a family child care home. Programs are required to do the following:

  • Provide, either directly or through referral, early, continuous, intensive, and comprehensive child development and family support services that will enhance the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development of participating children.
  • Ensure that the level of services to families responds to their needs and circumstances.
  • Promote positive parent-child interactions.
  • Provide services to parents to support their role (including training in parenting skills and basic child development) and services to help families move toward self-sufficiency (including educational and employment services, as appropriate).
  • Coordinate Early Head Start and Head Start services with services provided by other programs in the state (including home-based services) and programs in the community (including programs for homeless children and children from birth to age 5 with disabilities) to ensure a comprehensive array of services (e.g., health and mental health services, family support services).
  • Ensure that children with documented behavioral problems, including behavior related to prior or existing trauma, receive appropriate screening and referral.
  • Ensure formal linkages with local Early Head Start, Head Start, child care, Local Education Agencies, and other early childhood education and development programs to ensure continuity of services for children and families.
  • Develop and implement a systematic procedure for transitioning children and parents into Early Head Start and Head Start programs as well as from these programs into other local educational settings.
  • Establish channels of communication between staff of the Early Head Start program and staff of a Head Start program or other early childhood education and development programs to facilitate the coordination of services.
  • In the case of an Early Head Start agency that operates a program and also provides Head Start services through the age of mandatory school attendance, ensure that participating children and families receive services through this age.
  • Ensure formal linkages between providers of early intervention services for young children with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.), the state interagency coordinating council as established in Part C of the IDEA (20 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.) and Part B of the IDEA (20 U.S.C. 1411 et seq.), and the agency responsible for administering section 106 of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (42 U.S.C. 5106a).