Early Head Start

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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