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Head Start began in 1965. The program is designed to foster healthy development in low-income children. Programs deliver a range of services, responsive and appropriate to each child’s and each family’s heritage and experience that encompass all aspects of a child’s development and learning. Every program must meet the needs of the federal Head Start Performance Standards and other applicable regulations.

It is the goal of Head Start to ensure that children begin school ready to learn. Activities are directed toward the skill and knowledge domains and domain elements.

Fully incorporating children with disabilities is a required element of the Head Start program. This initiative is beneficial to all involved, children with and without disabilities, parents and staff.

Family and community partnerships recognize the vital contributions made by parents and community members. Both groups are involved in the operation, governance and the evaluation of the Head Start program. In the area of program management and operation, there is strong focus on delivering high-quality child development services to children for low- income families.


To provide a unified voice that represents all paid members and agencies. IHSA meets the needs of its members by providing advocacy, training and leadership development, and by promoting collaboration and communication. IHSA is committed to fostering professionalism within the organization and accountability to members. IHSA promotes proactive leadership and respect for diversity. 


With the re-authorization of the Head Start program in 1994, Congress established a new program for low-income families with infant, toddlers and pregnant women which is called Early Head Start.

Early Head Start programs provide early, individualized child development and parent education services to low-income families. It enables parent to be better caregivers and teachers to their children and helps them met their own goals, including economic independence.

There is an appropriate mix of home visits, experiences at the Early Head Start centers and other settings such as family or center-based child care.

The program provides early learning opportunities for infant and toddles with or with out disabilities to grow and developed in a nurturing and inclusive setting.
Early Head Start connects families with other service providers at the local level to ensure that a comprehensive array of health, nutrition and other services are provided to the families.

Early Head Start programs coordinate with local Head Start and other development programs in order to ensure continuity for these children and their families.


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