Early Head Start is a comprehensive two-generation federal initiative aimed at enhancing the development of infants and toddlers while strengthening families. The model is founded on nine principles:
- High quality services;
- Activities that promote healthy development and identify atypical development at the earliest stage possible;
- Positive relationships and continuity, with an emphasis on the role of the parent as the child’s first and most important relationship;
- 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 that acknowledges the profound role culture plays in early development;
- Comprehensiveness, flexibility, and responsiveness of services that allow children and families to move across various program options over time as their life situation demands;
- Transition planning; and
- Collaboration with community partnerships that allow programs to expand their services.
Early Head Start includes home- or center-based services, a combination of home- and center-based services, and family child care services (services provided in family child care homes). The focus of this report is on the home-based service option (Early Head Start Home-Based Option). The information in this profile describes the Early Head Start Home-Based Option unless specified otherwise.