We are using cookies to give you the best experience. You can find out more about which cookies we are using or switch them off in privacy settings.
AcceptPrivacy Settings

Early Head Start (EHS)

General Information About All Head Start Programs in Pennsylvania

Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP)

Early Head Start (EHS)

PA Head Start State Collaboration Office (PA HSSCO)

Program Info To Share with Parents, Guardians, & Families

What's new? Get the latest early childhood education (ECE) information and resources directly to your inbox.

Early Head Start programs provide family-centered services for pregnant women and low-income families with very young children. These programs are designed to promote the development of the children, and to enable their parents to fulfill their roles as parents and to move toward self-sufficiency.

Early Head Start programs provide similar services as preschool Head Start programs, but they are tailored for the unique needs of infants and toddlers. Early Head Start programs promote the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development of infants and toddlers through safe and developmentally enriching caregiving. This prepares these children for continued growth and development and eventual success in school and life.

Early Head Start is unique from other early childhood programs because it provides comprehensive services that support both the child and the family. Those comprehensive services include: education and child develop, mental health/health/nutrition, family and community engagement, and disabilities.

Early Head Start programs also mobilize the local community to provide the resources and environment necessary to ensure a comprehensive, integrated array of services and support for children and families.

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is an Early Head Start Home-based grantee.

OCDEL, through a team of EHS Specialist at the Pennsylvania Key, partners with two community programs to offer EHS home-based services. Services in Lancaster and Lebanon counties are provided by Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit, and in Lawrence county services are offered by the Children’s Advocacy Center in New Castle. Links to each partner can be found below.

Home-based services for low-income families with very young children include weekly, 90 minute visits, in the home, by a Home-visitor. Visits provide an opportunity for home-visitors to support families in their role as their child’s first teacher. Typical visits include conversations around typical child development and milestones, and using positive parent-child interactions, daily routines, and household materials to enhance learning for the child. Home-visits also include information about nutrition, health and community services.

Home-based services for pregnant mothers facilitate the ability of enrolled pregnant women and expectant families in accessing ongoing health care and health insurance, as appropriate and other services such as nutritional counseling, food assistance, oral health care, mental health services, substance abuse prevention and treatment, and emergency shelter or transitional housing in cases of domestic violence. 

Home-based programs must provide pregnant and expectant families a newborn visit with each mother and baby within 2 weeks of birth of the child.  The newborn visit includes prenatal and postpartum information, education and services that address fetal development, importance of nutrition, risks of alcohol, drugs, and smoking, labor and delivery, postpartum recovery, parental depression, infant care, safe sleep practices, and the benefits of breast feeding. The needs for appropriate support for emotional well-being, nurturing and responsive caregiving, and father engagement during pregnancy and early childhood are also components of the services provided to pregnant women and expectant families.

The home-based experience also promotes interactions between families through monthly socializations. These opportunities allow for families to meet, share, learn, and develop relationships with each other.

Home-Based Services

Child’s Advocacy Center

Serving New Castle County

Learn More

Lancaster Lebanon Intermediate Unit

Serving Lancaster-Lebanon Counties

Learn More

Policy Council and Governing Board

Part of complying with the Head Start Performance Standards, Early Head Start Governance is made up of Policy Council and Governing Board members driven by their desire to make a big difference in the lives of low-income children and families in their community. They help the Head Start organization set and achieve goals for children’s healthy development and school readiness, families’ economic well-being, and community empowerment.

Contact for Early Head Start (EHS)

(toll free)


  • Google Analytics

Google Analytics

This website uses Google Analytics to collect anonymous information, including the number of visitors and most popular pages.

Keeping this cookie enabled helps us to continually improve our site.