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Early Head Start

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Early Head Start is a locally operated, federally funded program that provides a comprehensive child development program serving pregnant women and children ages birth to three with guidance, information, and direct services to foster healthy development of children and their families.

Sixteen programs operate Early Head Start services in 53 Iowa counties. Early Head Start serves 2,112 children (2018-19), 164 pregnant women, and 1,831 families.

The Head Start program is administered by the Office of Head Start, the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, and the ;Department of Health and Human Services. Grants are awarded by ACF Regional Offices to public agencies, private organizations, Indian Tribes, and school systems for the purpose of operating the Early Head Start program at the community level. Currently, grants in Iowa are awarded by the ACF Regional Office in Kansas City. The Iowa Head Start State Collaboration Office does not provide oversight to the Early Head Start programs in Iowa. Its purpose is to support strong partnerships between state government and local programs operating in Iowa. The state does provide funding to six state-funded Early Head Start programs.

Early Head Start Programs:

  • Ensure quality by meeting the requirements in the Head Start Program Performance Standards and other applicable regulations
  • Provide early, individualized child development and parent education services to low-income infants and toddlers and their families according to a plan developed jointly by the parents and staff
  • Provide these services through an appropriate mix of home visits, experiences at the Early Head Start center, and experiences in other settings such as family or center-based child care
  • Provide early opportunities for infants and toddlers with and without disabilities to grow and develop together in nurturing and inclusive settings
  • Ensure that the Early Head Start program is supportive and nurturing of families
  • Respond to the needs of families, including, where appropriate, the need for full-time child care for working families
  • Connect with other service providers at the local level to ensure that a comprehensive array of health, nutrition, and other services is provided to the program's pregnant women, very young children, and their families
  • Recruit, train, and supervise high quality staff to ensure the kind of warm and continuous relationships between caregivers and children that are crucial to learning and development for infants and toddlers
  • Ensure parent involvement in policy and decision making
  • Coordinate with local Head Start and other child development programs in order to ensure continuity of services for these children and families

Legal Requirements and Reports

Iowa Head Start Annual Report 2005

Iowa Head Start Annual Report 2004

Head Start Program Performance Standards (45 CFR Part 1304) are the program requirements that all Early Head Start grantees must meet to assure high quality programs. These standards include regulations for both Head Start and Early Head Start.


Research Brief on Early Head Start: Benefits to Children and Families

Research Brief on Early Head Start: Child Care

Research Brief on Early Head Start: Maternal Depression

Research Brief on Early Head Start: Children with Disabilities

Research Brief on Early Head Start: Health and Health Care

Research Brief on Early Head Start: Home-Based Services

Contacts in Your Area

Early Head Start in Iowa Map


Iowa Head Start Association

Head Start in Iowa

Head Start State Collaboration Office

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on January 27, 2021 at 1:15pm.