Early Head Start was established in 1994 as part of the reauthorization of the Head Start Act. Early Head Start is a program for low-income teenfamilies with infants and toddlers, and pregnant teens.
The goal of the program is to enhance children's physical, social, emotional, and mental development; to enable parents to be better caregivers and teachers to their children and to help parents meet their own goals, including economic independence.
Early Head Start:
- Provides early, individualized child development and parent education services to low-income families with infants and toddlers according to a plan developed jointly by the parents and staff
- Provides these services through an appropriate mix of home visits and experiences at the Early Head Start center
- Provides early opportunities for infants and toddlers with and without disabilities to grow and develop together in nurturing and inclusive settings
- Ensures that the Early Head Start program is supportive and nurturing to families
- Responds to the needs of families, including, where appropriate, the need for child care while families attend school or work
- Connects with other service providers at the local level to ensure that a comprehensive array of health, nutrition, and other services is provided to the program's pregnant women, very young children, and their families
- Recruits, trains, and supervises high quality staff, ensuring the kind of warm and continuous relationships between caregivers and children that are crucial to learning and development for infants and toddlers
- Ensures parent involvement in policy and decision making
- Coordinates with local Head Start and other child development programs in order to ensure continuity of services for these children and families