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Early Childhood Programs

Head Start

National Head Start

Head Start is a national program administered by the Office of Head Start within the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACF), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Head Start programs provide comprehensive services for low-income children from birth to entry into kindergarten.

Head Start currently receives more than $6.8 billion in funds and serves more than 906,000 low-income children and families nationwide. The program is child-centered, family-focused, comprehensive, and community-based. Head Start services are designed to address developmental goals for children, employment and self-sufficiency goals for adults, and support for parents in their work and child-caring roles.

Head Start is a direct federal-to-local program administered by more than 1,600 locally based public or private organizations (called "grantees") across the country.

In Pennsylvania, 36 Early Head Start grantees provide services to 4,156 children from birth to age 3 or to pregnant women. Children age 3 to entry into elementary school receive Head Start services from 49 grantee agencies. Federal funds provide 27,960 children with Head Start Services.

For more information about Head Start or to search for the nearest program visit:

Head Start Supplemental Assistance program

In addition to federal funds, more than $37 million in state funding for Head Start services is allocated to 41 of the Head Start grantees to provide services to approximately 4,900 children in the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP).

The PA Key works to ensure the effective implementation of this program as one of the state's strategies for building early childhood systems and access to comprehensive services and support for low-income children.  The HSSAP requires that grantees follow the Head Start Performance Standards when serving state-funded children.  In addition, partnerships with child care, preschools, and intermediate units are an integral part of the HSSAP.

Click here for child outcomes for 2012-2013

Check out the PA Department of Education website for more information about the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program.

PA PKC/HSSAP Advisory Committee 




2013-14 Head Start State Supplemental Continuation Application (for current Grantees)

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning will open the Continuation application for 2013-14 on March 11, 2013. All initial applications must be submitted no later than April 5, 2013. Questions can be directed to your Preschool Program Specialist. Applications can be accessed in the PELICAN system https://www.pelican.state.pa.us

Summer Kindergarten Readiness Guidance Click Here

2012-13 RFA Guidelines Click Here

Early Head Start 

OCDEL is a Federal Early Head Start Grantee.  By working with 2 direct service partners, OCDEL provides 128 Early Head Start slots through Home-based service delivery options to pregnant women, infants and toddlers form low income families.  Counties served include Lawrence and Lebanon Counties.

Early Head Start serves income eligible pregnant women, infants and toddlers through their 3rd birthday.  For more information on OCDEL's Early Head Start program contact Tracey Campanini, 717-346-9324 or trcampanin@pa.gov.

Click Here for the Commonwealth of PA, OCDEL Early Head Start FY12 Report to the Public

Pennsylvania Head Start State Collaboration Office (HSSCO)

The PA HSSCO is located at the PA Key in Harrisburg. Click here for more information.



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