Head Start is guided by three principles:
- Comprehensive Services. Head Start’s comprehensive services set it apart from other early childhood programs. Services are designed to promote children’s healthy development – including their physical, nutritional, social/emotional and oral health – because children who are physically healthy are better prepared to learn. All children participate in screenings including vision and hearing and must have a dental exam. Programs assist families to access medical and dental care, including evaluation and follow-up care when needed.
- Parent Engagement.
Head Start is a family-centered program that recognizes that parents are their child’s first teachers, and the most important influence on their development. Educational experiences are designed to build upon each child and family’s development, and to help children foster a sense of pride in themselves, their families, and their culture. Head Start works in partnership with families to understand each family’s goals and needs and guide them toward success. Programs provide many opportunities to volunteer and become involved in parent leadership activities.
- Building Community. Approximately one-third of the staff in Head Start programs are current or former Head Start parents who live in the cities and towns their programs serve. Head Start agencies also work collaboratively with other community organizations to assist Head Start families to meet their basic needs for food, shelter, health care, and employment. These partnerships support families as well as local businesses, which lead to stronger communities.