Early Head Start Program

The Goals of Early Head Start

  • To provide safe and developmentally enriching care-giving which promotes the physical, cognitive, social and emotional development of infants and toddlers, and prepares them for future growth and development;
  • To support parents, both mothers and fathers, in their role as primary caregivers and teachers of their children, and families in meeting personal goals and achieving self-sufficiency across a wide variety of domains;
  • To mobilize communities to provide the resources and environment necessary to ensure a comprehensive, integrated array of services and support for families.


The Principles of Early Head Start

These principles are designed to nurture healthy attachments between parent and child (and child and caregiver), emphasize a strengths-based, relationship-centered approach to services, and encompass the full range of a family’s needs from pregnancy through a child’s third birthday.

They include:

  • An Emphasis on High Quality which recognizes the critical opportunity of E.H.S. programs to positively impact children and families in the early years and beyond.
  • Prevention and Promotion Activities that both promote healthy development and recognize and address atypical development at the earliest stage possible.
  • Positive Relationships and Continuity which honor the critical importance of early attachments on healthy development in early childhood and beyond. The parents are viewed as a child’s first, and most important, relationship.
  • Parent Involvement activities that offer parents a meaningful and strategic role in the program’s vision, services, and governance.
  • Inclusion strategies that respect the unique developmental trajectories of young children in the context of a typical setting, including children with disabilities.
  • Cultural competence which acknowledges the profound role that culture plays in early development. Programs also recognize the influence of cultural values and beliefs on both staff and families’ approaches to child development. Programs work within the context of home languages for all children and families.
  • Comprehensiveness, Flexibility and Responsiveness of services which allow children and families to move across various program options over time, as their life situation demands.
  • Transition planning respects families’ need for thought and attention paid to movements across program options and into—and out of—Early Head Start programs.
  • Collaboration is, simply put, central to an Early Head Start program’s ability to meet the comprehensive needs of families. Strong partnerships allow programs to expand their services to families with infants and toddlers beyond the door of the program and into the larger community.

Early Head Start benefits children and families 

A national evaluation conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., and Columbia University’s Center for Children and Families, in collaboration with the Early Head Start Research Consortium, found:

  • That 3-year-old Early Head Start Children performed significantly better on a range of measures of cognitive, language, and social-emotional development than a randomly assigned control group.
  • The parents of the 3-year-olds scored significantly higher than control group parents on many aspects of home environment and parenting behavior.
  • There were impacts for parents on progress towards self-sufficiency, and for fathers specifically.


Overall Impacts at Age 3:

  • E.H.S. program children scored 91.4 on the Bayley Mental Development Index, compared with 89.9 for control group children, and they scored 83.3 on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, compared to 81.1 for the control group. Early Head Start children were significantly less likely than control group children to score in the at-risk range of developmental functioning as tested in both the Bayley and Peabody measures.
  • E.H.S. children engaged their parents more, were less negative toward their parents, and more attentive to objects during play.

  • E.H.S. parents rated their children as lower in aggressive behavior than control parents did.
  • E.H.S. parents were more emotionally supportive and less detached than control group.
  • E.H.S. parents were more likely to report reading to their child every day: 56.8 percent of EHS parents compared to 52.0 percent of control group.
  • E.H.S. parents were less likely to report having spanked their children in the past week (46.7 percent program parents vs. 53.8 percent control group parents. EHS parents reported a greater repertoire of discipline strategies, including more mild and fewer punitive strategies.
  • E.H.S. fathers were less likely to reports spanking their children during the previous week; 25.4 percent of program fathers, compared to 35.6 percent of control fathers.
  • E.H.S. program children were observed to be more able to engage their fathers and to be more attentive during play.

For  more information, visit: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/resource/early-head-start-benefits-children-and-families-research-to-practice-brief  


Do I Qualify?

Do I Qualify?

For this benefit program, you must be a resident of the state of Pennsylvania.
Children from birth to age five from families with low income, according to the Poverty Guidelines published by the Federal government, are eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start  services. In order to qualify, you must have an annual household income (before taxes) that is below the following amounts:

Household Size* Maximum Income Level (Per Year)
1 $11,770
2 $15,930
3 $20,090
4 $24,250
5 $28,410
6 $32,570
7 $36,730
8 $40,890

*For households with more than eight people, add $4,160 per additional person. Always check with the appropriated managing agency to ensure the most accurate guidelines.

Find out if you are eligible.

How do I enroll my child?

How do I enroll my child?

To enroll in the Care Center Foundation - Early Head Start Program

To enroll your child in the Early Head Start Program you are required to:      

1. Complete an Early Head Start Application. The application is available in English and in Spanish. Applications are available in person at the Care Center Foundation, located at 127-129 S. Matlack Street in West Chester or can be obtained by contacting Ms. Liz Tucker via email at LizT@cciu.org or the Care Center Foundation at info@carecenterfoundation.org.

2. Apply for funding from – Chester County Childcare Information Services (C.C.I.S. Map) Child Care Works, sometimes called C.C.I.S. provides financial help to families for daycare/ child care. To be eligible:

  • You must live in Pennsylvania
  • Have a child or children who need child care while you work or attend an education program
  • Meet income guidelines for your family size (generally, 200% of the federal poverty level)
  • Work 20 or more hours a week – or- Work 10 hours and go to school or train for 10 hours a week
  • Have a promise of a job that will start within 30 days of your application for subsidized child care
  • Teen parents must attend an education program
  • The child who needs care must be a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residency
  • Have proof of identification for each parent or caretaker in the home.

Families may choose any child care program that accepts Child Care Works or a relative/neighbor provider that has completed CareCheck and federal criminal history clearance. Families pay a co-pay based on their income, and Child Care Works provides a subsidy to the child care program. Child care programs may charge fees that aren’t covered by Child Care Works, so be sure to ask the program about any fees when you visit or call about space.

You can sign up online at the COMPASS website (you can also sign up for programs like SNAP food stamps or LIHEAP energy assistance) or visit your local Child Care Information Services (CCIS) agency. Your CCIS can help you pick the right child care program for your family.

For more information or if you have questions regarding how to enroll your child in the Early Head Start or Head Start- PA Pre-K Counts Programs please feel free to contact Ms. Liz Tucker Site Lead/Child Development Specialist @ LizT@cciu.org or by telephone at (484) 401-2079.