Program Planning

Requirements of the Home-Based Program Option

Mother and child reading a book.As mentioned in the previous section, Delivering Comprehensive Services in All Head Start Programs, it is important for supervisors to know the requirements for the home-based program option. This will help support home-based staff and implementation of the full scope of services. (See Requirements of the Home-Based Option in the Home Visitor’s Online Handbook.)

This section describes the Head Start Program Performance Standards, which set the general requirements for the home-based option. Requirements related to staff qualifications can be found in the Staffing the Home-Based Option section of this online handbook.

Home-Based Option, 45 CFR §1302.22

(a) Setting

The home-based option delivers the full range of services, consistent with 45 CFR §1302.20(b), through visits with the child's parents, primarily in the child's home and through group socializations  in a Head Start classroom, community facility, home, or on field trips. For Early Head Start programs, the home-based option may deliver services to some or all of a program’s enrolled children. For Head Start programs, the home-based option may deliver services only to a portion of a program’s enrolled children.

(b) Caseload

A program that implements a home-based option must maintain an average caseload of 10 to 12 families per home visitor, with a maximum of 12 families for any individual home visitor.

(c) Service Duration

Early Head Start home-based programs must provide:

  • One home visit per week per family that lasts at least an hour and a half
  • At least 46 visits per year
  • At least 22 group socialization activities over the course of the program year

Head Start programs must provide:

  • One home visit per week per family that lasts at least an hour and a half
  • At least 32 visits per year
  • At least 16 group socialization activities over the course of the program year

(c)(3) Meeting Minimum Requirements

A program that implements a home-based option must:

  • Make up planned home visits or group socialization activities that were canceled by the program and, to the extent possible, attempt to make up planned home visits canceled by the family when necessary to meet the minimum requirement
  • Not replace home visits or group socialization activities for medical or social service appointments for the purposes of meeting the minimum requirements

(d) Safety Requirements

The areas for learning, playing, sleeping, toileting, preparing food, and eating in facilities used for group socializations in the home-based option must meet the safety standards described in 45 CFR §1302.47(1)(ii) through (viii).

Education in Home-Based Programs, 45 CFR §1302.35

(a) Purpose

Carried out through home visits and group socializations, activities focus on promoting secure parent-child relationships and helping parents take advantage of the learning experiences available to young children during their day-to-day routines.

(b) Home-Based Program Design

A home-based program design must ensure that all visits are:

  • Planned jointly by the home visitor and parents to reflect the critical role of parents
  • Planned using information from ongoing assessments
  • Scheduled with enough time to serve all enrolled children
  • Conducted with the parents present
  • Scheduled with time to provide required comprehensive services

(c) Home Visit Experiences

A program that operates the home-based option must ensure that all home visits do the following:

  • Focus on high-quality learning experiences.
  • Focus on growth toward the goals described in the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF).
  • Use these goals and the curriculum to plan home visit activities that implement:
    • Age and developmentally appropriate, structured, child-focused learning experiences
    • Strategies and activities that promote parents' ability to support the child's cognitive, social, emotional, language, literacy, and physical development
    • Strategies and activities that promote the home as a learning environment that is safe, nurturing, responsive, and language and communication rich
    • Research-based strategies and activities for children who are dual language learners that recognize bilingualism and biliteracy as strengths
      • For infants and toddlers, focus on the development of the home language while providing experiences that expose both parents and children to English.
      • For preschoolers, focus on both English language acquisition and the continued development of the home language.
  • Follow up with families to discuss learning experiences provided in the home visit, address concerns, and inform strategies to promote progress toward school readiness goals.

(d) Home-Based Curriculum

The research-based, home-based curriculum programs used for home visits and socializations must:

  • Promote the parent's role as the child's teacher
  • Be developmentally appropriate
  • Align with the Head Start ELOF
  • Have an organized developmental scope and sequence
  • Support staff in effective implementation
  • Provide interactions, learning experiences, and environments that deliver developmentally, linguistically, and culturally appropriate activities and activities that support children's cognitive, social, and emotional growth for later success in school

(e) Group Socialization

A program that operates the home-based option must ensure that group socializations:

  • Are planned jointly with families
  • Are conducted with both child and parent participation
  • Occur in a classroom, community facility, home, or field trip setting, as appropriate
  • Are structured to:
    • Provide age-appropriate activities for participating children that are intentionally aligned to school readiness goals, the Head Start ELOF, and the home-based curriculum
    • Encourage parents to share experiences related to their children’s development with other parents to strengthen parent-child relationships and to help promote parents’ understanding of child development
  • For parents with preschoolers, group socializations also must provide opportunities for parents to participate in activities that:
    • Support parenting skill development or family partnership goals identified in 45 CFR §1302.52(c), as appropriate
    • Emphasize peer-group interactions designed to promote children’s social, emotional, and language development and progress toward school readiness goals while encouraging parents to observe and actively participate in activities, as appropriate

Parent Activities to Promote Child Learning and Development, 45 CFR §1302.51

Home visitors must also support parents as they pursue education and life skills and comprehensive health services for themselves and their children. This is part of the child and family goals and applies to all program options.