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Head Start

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

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Head Start programs promote the school readiness of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children from low-income families. Services are provided in a variety of settings including centers, family child care, and children’s own home. Head Start programs also engage parents or other key family members in positive relationships, with a focus on family wellbeing. Parents participate in leadership roles, including having a say in program operations.

Head Start programs are available at no cost to children ages birth to 5 from low-income families. Programs may provide transportation to the centers so enrolled children can participate regularly. Families and children experiencing homelessness, and children in the foster care system are also eligible. Additionally, Head Start services are available to children with disabilities and other special needs.

Head Start in Pennsylvania

Click the different programs for more information.

Early Head Start (EHS)

Early Head Start programs provide family-centered services for 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.

Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP)

Pennsylvania’s Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP) provides state funding to Head Start programs that serve three- and four-year olds living in families at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level. The program is offered to eligible families at no-cost. The programs provide comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services aligned to the federal program requirements.

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.

Pennsylvania Head Start Collaboration Office (PA HSSCO)

The Pennsylvania Head Start State Collaboration Office (PA HSSCO) facilitates collaboration among Head Start agencies and entities that carry out activities designed to benefit low income children from birth to school entry and their families. PA HSSCO is funded federally by the Office of Head Start in a grant to the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) and is located at the Pennsylvania Key.

Pennsylvania Head Start Association (PHSA)

The Pennsylvania Head Start Association (PHSA) functions as an advocacy organization for Head Start programs, families, staff, and administrators in Pennsylvania. PHSA and the PA HSSCO work in partnership to keep lines of communication flowing in a positive direction and developing strategies to facilitate the involvement of Head Start in state and local policies, plans, processes, and decisions affecting low-income children and families.

PA Pre-K Counts & HSSAP Advisory Committee


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