Early Head Start (EHS) is a comprehensive child development and family support program for infants, toddlers, and pregnant women in families experiencing poverty. Apart from family income, each EHS program sets its own eligibility criteria, targeting their services to best meet the needs of families and children in their community. Services may be delivered in centers, family child care homes, or individual family homes. , A recent study found that, among families participating in EHS, children had enhanced cognitive development, attention, and engagement; their parents had less stress and family conflict, and were more likely to be responsive, warm, and supportive. EHS families had lower rates of subsequent child maltreatment than those in a control group. The National Head Start Association reports the percentage of eligible children ages 0-2 who had access to Early Head Start during the 2018 fiscal year. Due to the pandemic, more recent data are not available. The denominator for this indicator is the number of children ages 0-2 below 100 percent of the federal poverty line, according to the 2018 U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement. The numerator is total funded EHS slots, based on the 2019 Head Start Program Information Report. This percentage does not account for eligibility criteria beyond income.
Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center. (2020). Early Head Start programs. https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/programs/article/early-head-start-programs
Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center. (2018). Early Head Start program options. https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/programs/article/early-head-start-program-options
Green, B. L., Ayoub, C., Bartlett, J. D., Furrer, C., Cohen, R. C., Buttita, K., Von Ende, A., Koepp, A., Regalbuto, E., & Sanders, M. B. (2018). How Early Head Start prevents child maltreatment. Child Trends. https://www.childtrends.org/publications/how-early-head-start-prevents-child-maltreatment
National Head Start Association (2021). Access to Head Start in the United States state-by-state fact sheets. https://www.nhsa.org/national-head-start-fact-sheets