Head Start

To promote school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of low-income children, including children on federally recognized reservations and children of migratory farm workers, through the provision of comprehensive health, educational, nutritional, social and other services; and
to involve parents in their children's learning and to help parents make progress toward their educational, literacy and employment goals.

Head Start also emphasizes the significant involvement of parents in the administration of their local Head Start programs.

Agency - Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services is the Federal government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially to those who are least able to help themselves.

Office - Contact the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start Regional Program Manager (See Appendix IV of the Catalog under the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.)

Relevant Nonprofit Program Categories

Program Accomplishments

Since 1965, Head Start has served more than 25 million children from low-income families in 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Outer Pacific. The program has provided education, health, nutrition and social services to the target population. In fiscal year 2007, there were 1,604 grantees funded to provide Head Start grantees. We estimate the same number of grantees in fiscal years 2008 and 2009.

Uses and Use Restrictions

At least 90 percent of the enrollees in a program must be income eligible; i.e.

from families whose income is below the poverty line, from families receiving public assistance, from homeless families or children in foster care.

Programs may, however, if they can demonstrate they are serving all of the income eligible families in their service area, propose to serve up to 45% (49% for American Indian/Alaska Native programs) of their children from families not meeting the income eligibility requirements.

Training and technical assistance grants are available to Head Start programs.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Any local government, federally-recognized Indian tribe, or public or private nonprofit or for profit agency which meets the requirements may apply for a grant.

However, application will be considered only when submitted in response to a specific announcement, published via the Internet at the following website address: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/grants_hsb.html, which solicits proposals to establish new Head Start Programs.

Grantee agencies may subcontract with other child-serving agencies to provide services to Head Start children.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Head Start/Early Head Start programs are for children from birth up to the age when the child enters the school system; however, Head Start programs only serve pre-school age children. (i.e. children three or four years old) while Early Head Start programs serve children from birth through age three. No less than 10 percent of each Head Start program's enrollment shall be for children with disabilities.


Nonprofit organizations must submit proof of nonprofit status. Applicable costs and administrative procedures will be determined in accordance with Part 74 and 92 of Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

The standard application forms as furnished by DHHS must be used for this program.

This program is eligible for coverage under E.O.

12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the Single Point of Contact (SPOC) in his or her State for more information on the process.

(NOTE: State/territory participation in the intergovernmental review process does not signify applicant eligibility for financial assistance under a program.

A potential applicant must meet the eligibility requirements of the program for which it is applying prior to submitting an application to its SPOC).

Application Procedures

The Office of Head Start will provide each applicant agency with a completed check list form showing exactly which items must be completed by each applicant and delegate agency.

Award Procedures

All funds are awarded directly to the grantees. Funds for local Head Start/Early Head Start programs, including a portion of training and technical assistance funds, are awarded by the Office of Head Start's Regional Offices. Funds for the following are awarded by the Central Office of Head Start: American Indian/Alaskan Native programs; Migrant programs; research, demonstration and evaluation efforts and some training and technical assistance efforts.


Applications for new projects should be submitted at the times specified by the announcement published via the Internet at the following website: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/grants_hsb.html. Applications for continuation grants must be received at least 90 days prior to the start of the new budget period.


Head Start Act, as amended; Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007, Public Law 110-134.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

This, depending on the nature of the proposal, can vary considerably from 90 days to as much as several months.


Grantees who are denied refunding may appeal adverse decisions to the HHS Departmental Appeals Board. There is no appeal for new grants denials.


OHS Headquarters or Regional Offices will inform grantees of the application procedures for renewal.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Head Start grantees are required to provide 20 percent of the total cost of the program, although this maybe waived wholly or in part if certain conditions pertain. Matching share may be in cash or in-kind fairly evaluated.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Funds are available for a 12-month budget period. Funds are released by monthly allowance on an Electronic Transfer System or by monthly check.

Post Assistance Requirements


Semiannual financial and annual program reports are required.


Audits are conducted in accordance with the requirements in 45 CFR, Parts 74 and 92.


Grantee must maintain an accounting system adequate to meet the purposes of the grant. Requirements for records are found in 45 CFR, Part 74 and 92.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) FY 07 $6,713,508,728; FY 08 $6,713,502,090; and FY 09 est $6,862,098,090. (Contracts) FY 07 $154,935,559; FY 08 $143,300,915; and FY 09 est $145,300,915.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$136,000 to $200,351,000; $4,150,000.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

Chapter XIII of Title 45 Code of Federal Regulations, including 45 CFR 1301 - 1311. These are available on request at no charge.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Contact the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start Regional Program Manager (See Appendix IV of the Catalog under the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.)

Headquarters Office

Office of Head Start, Portals Building, 1250 Maryland Avenue, SW., Washington, DC. 20024. Telephone: (202) 401-8573.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

The degree to which the proposed project will meet the Head Start Program Performance Standards and other program objectives as specified in a program announcement.

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