What is Head Start?
Head Start is a program that helps eligible young children between the ages of three and five grow up ready to succeed in school and in life. Programs work to meet high standards for delivering quality services to children and their families. Children who attend Head Start programs participate in fun activities while developing skills in a variety of areas, including social skills. Children in Head Start also receive nutritious meals and the necessary health care in a safe environment.
Early Head Start is a program for families with infants and toddlers ages birth to three. Families who are expecting a new baby may enroll in Early Head Start. Families do not pay a fee for Head Start or Early Head Start.
Parents with children in Head Start participate in all aspects of the program. They help to govern, plan what children learn, and provide advice about needed services. Parents and other community members also volunteer in classrooms and other parts of the programs.
What Services Are Offered?
Head Start and Early Head Start offer families a variety of program options, including center-based, home-based, or a combination of both. For infants and toddlers, the home-based option includes a socialization day at the center where parents learn parenting skills along with new ways to promote their children’s development.
Most children in New Hampshire Head Start attend five days per week for part of the day. Nationally, almost half of the children participate in a 5-day, full day program option. For New Hampshire preschoolers who need a full day program while their parents are working, training or searching for a job, some Head Start programs administer full day services, while others collaborate with local child care programs.
Pregnant women also receive a variety of supports and services. Included are coordination of prenatal and postpartum health care, dental and mental health services and follow up (substance abuse prevention and treatment), prenatal education on fetal development, information on the benefits of breastfeeding, emergency/crisis intervention, and others.
Family Services Head Start/Early Head Start Offers:
Who Funds Head Start?
Head Start is funded and monitored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Funding is provided from the ACF Office of Head Start directly to grantee agencies, which, in New Hampshire, are Community Action Programs.
In 2011, New Hampshire received $11,580,274 from ACF for five Head Start programs and $3,075,637 for Early Head Start programs (known as “grantees”). New Hampshire also received $225,364 for training and technical assistance to Head Start/Early Head Start programs and $125,000 for the Head Start State Collaboration Office.
New Hampshire Head Start has 43 sites throughout the state.