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Early Childhood Programs

Early Head Start

Early Head Start was established by the 1994 reauthorization of the Head Start Act as a program for low-income families with infants and toddlers and pregnant women. The program is administered by the federal Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) Office of Head Start (OHS). In creating Early Head Start, Congress acted upon evidence from research and practice indicating that the time from conception to age 3 is critical for human development and, for infants and toddlers to develop optimally, they must have healthy beginnings and the continuity of responsive and caring relationships. Research demonstrates that Early Head Start programs that fully implement Head Start regulations improve school-readiness outcomes for children (OPRE-EHS Research).

The Early Head Start - Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnership program will provide family-centered, full-day, full-year services designed to promote the development of the youngest children; to engage parents in their roles as primary caregivers and teachers of their children; and to help parents move toward self-sufficiency.

In February 2015, OCDEL was awarded a federal grant to develop and enhance EHS-CC Partnerships. The model proposed by OCDEL seeks to identify strong community-based family support providers and child care to serve EHS eligible children participating in Child Care Works, Pennsylvania’s child care subsidy program. In addition to supporting vulnerable children and their families, Pennsylvania’s goal is to increase the quality of child care environments in which these children are enrolled.


Pennsylvania Awards $24.3 Million for Early Head Start Child Care Partnership Grants

In February 2015, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) received a four-year, $24.3 million grant to serve low-income, at-risk children and their families. OCDEL requested grant proposals, and today the Wolf Administration announced the winners of the Early Head Start Child Care Partnership grants.

“Everyone deserves access to quality child care and the peace of mind of knowing their child is in good hands,” said acting DHS Secretary Ted Dallas. “This grant offers opportunities for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable families and their children to succeed.”

The grant prioritized partnerships between community-based organizations and local child care providers. Seven Pennsylvania early learning agencies and their partners were selected to receive the funds.

The successful applicants receiving grant awards include:

    • Child Development Centers, Inc. - Venango County
    • Lawrence County Community Action Program - Lawrence County
    • Huntingdon County Child & Adult Development Corporation - Huntingdon County
    • Lancaster Lebanon Intermediate Unit - Lancaster and Lebanon Counties
    • Berks County Intermediate Unit - Berks County
    • Maternity Care Coalition -  Montgomery and Bucks Counties
    • Chester County Intermediate Unit - Chester County


“These grants enable more children to have access to the quality early childhood education they deserve,” acting Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera said. “Not only has early childhood education been shown to improve academic and employment outcomes, but it can spark an interest in lifelong learning at an early age.”

In addition to providing comprehensive Early Head Start services to 368 vulnerable children and their families, the grants also will increase the quality of child care, enhance staff development, and strengthen community partnerships.

OCDEL, jointly overseen by the departments of Human Services and Education, will use the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership Award to expand the number of infants and toddlers receiving Early Head Start services in the commonwealth. The grant, from the Federal Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start, will be paid over four and a half years. 



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