Head Start / Early Head Start

Head Start and Early Head Start are federal programs that provide funding for children ages 0-5 from low-income families to receive quality early education services.

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Learn about Head Start and Early Head Start

The federal Head Start program offers Center-Based Child Care, Family Child Care, and home visiting options on a part-day, part-year, or full-time basis for children ages five and under. Head Start and Early Head Start comprehensive services support children's physical, social, emotional, nutritional, and dental health.


Head Start accepts eligible 3 and 4 year old children until they can enter kindergarten. Early Head Start accepts eligible infants and toddlers.

How to Apply

Head Start and Early Head Start programs are administered by area agencies that serve designated communities. If you are interested in Head Start or Early Head Start, contact the Head Start lead agency in your area to find out if there are openings and how to apply to enroll your child.  They will provide you with required forms, tell you what documents you need to apply, and will determine your eligibility.

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Learn about the Massachusetts Head Start State Collaboration Office

The Massachusetts Head Start State Collaboration Office (MA HSSCO) is located at the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC). The MA HSSCO is supported by an advisory group that meets four times a year and includes Head Start staff, as well as representatives from state agencies, organizations that work with low-income families, the Region I Office of Head Start and the Head Start Training and Technical assistance network. The MA HSSCO works collaboratively with the Massachusetts Head Start Association (MHSA) to enhance partnerships and mutually-developed agendas for the MHSA meetings and the MA HSSCO Advisory meetings.

The MA HSSCO has three regional priority areas: supporting early childhood mental health, supporting children and families experiencing homelessness, and addressing the early childhood education workforce crisis. Goals for the MA HSSCO also include:

1. Collaborate with state systems to align early care and education services and supports for children and families prenatally to age 5.

Collaborate across systems to support:

  • Health, mental health, and social and emotional well-being
  • Home visiting
  • Comprehensive service delivery
  • Services and supports for children who are experiencing homelessness, children in foster care, children with disabilities, and children who are dual language learners
  • Quality improvements
  • School readiness initiatives
  • State background check systems
  • Child care
  • Child welfare
  • Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships
  • Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Health Integration Prenatal-to-3 Programs

2. Work with state efforts to collect and use data on early childhood programs to guide decision-making and improve child and family outcomes.

Support appropriate access to and use of data to guide decision-making and to improve outcomes in areas such as coordinated eligibility and disparities in access to services.

3. Support the expansion of and access to high-quality workforce and career development opportunities for staff.

Work with state professional development systems, including workforce registries and career pathways, and with institutions of higher education to promote expansion and high-quality career development opportunities.

4. Coordinate with school systems to ensure continuity and alignment across programs, as appropriate.

Promote continuity of services, program alignment, and support for successful transitions, particularly with state preschool, kindergarten, and with Title I, McKinney-Vento, and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act programs.

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