Early Head Start

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  • This strategy can address educational disparities and promote healthy childhood environments. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve these outcomes are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program basics

  • Federally funded early preschool program for children from low-income families
  • Services include childcare, parent education, health and mental health services, and family support
  • Funds can be used for home or center-based programs

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Strong (second-highest tier)

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Strong (second-highest tier)

Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps; the second-highest level of evidence by the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare


Target population

Preschool-aged children

Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

1995–present

Outcomes and impact

  • Positive outcomes in cognitive skills and social-emotional development
  • Social-emotional benefits continue through age 10
  • Positive effects in a range of parent-related outcomes

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This section is under review
  • Tailor childcare approaches to the cultural context of the community
  • Provide comprehensive childcare services including education, health procedures, nutrition, and mental health.
  • Use small group sizes: 4 children per teacher, up to a maximum overall group size of 8 children
  • Form partnerships to transition children from Early Head Start to regular Head Start

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