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Links Between Health and the Five Essential Domains of the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework (HSCDELF)

Head Start provides "health, educational, nutritional, social, and other services that are determined, based on family needs assessments, to be necessary."1 Staff coordinate and deliver these services as part of a "whole child" approach to child development. All staff impact child development through the health services they deliver. By promoting health and safety and helping to identify health concerns, staff play a critical role in school readiness. Note: This resource is under review.

Each of the five domain pages describes the links between health and an essential learning domain of school readiness. 

Each domain page includes:

  • A short statement about the link between children's health and the specific learning domain
  • Research connections with science-informed evidence
  • A printable table including:
    • Examples of school readiness goals for infants and toddlers related to that domain developed by the Early Head Start National Resource Center
    • Examples of school readiness goals for preschool children related to that domain developed by the National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning
    • Suggested health strategies that support the goal with links for further information

Connect to examples of school readiness goals and health services that support them by selecting a domain below:

Programs may have school readiness goals other than the examples featured in the table. After reviewing each domain, use the Guide to Other School Readiness Goals to find links to health services for these topics.

Background Information

In 1990, federal and state leaders convened the National Education Goals Panel, a group of national education experts, to identify five domains critical to school success. The five domains of school readiness represent a holistic vision of development that recognizes the importance of comprehensive services to ensure each child's success in school and life. Development in each of these domains depends on the coordination of high-quality comprehensive services.


1H.R. 1429-110th Congress: Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007. Section 636(2). (2007). Retrieved from http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/110/hr142

* 45 CFR 1307(b)(2)(ii) and The National Education Goals Panel refer to this domain as physical well-being and motor development. Snow, C. E. & Van Hemel, S. B. (Eds.) (2008). Early Childhood Assessment: Why, what, and how? (p. 87). National Research Council of the National Academies. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Last Updated: July 16, 2018