Nurturing Children Through Fun and Learning

Head Start and Early Head Start promote school readiness of children ages birth to five from low-income families by supporting the development of the whole child.

Head Start and Early Head Start programs offer a variety of service models and are based in centers and schools. Our Early Head Start program also offers home-based services in which our staff will conduct weekly visits to children in their own homes and work with the parent.

Head Start supports a child’s growth and development in a positive learning environment through a variety of services, which include

Early learning: Children’s readiness for school and beyond is fostered through individualized learning experiences. Through relationships with adults, play, and planned and spontaneous instruction, children grow in many aspects of development. Children progress in social skills and emotional well-being, along with language and literacy learning, and concept development

Health: Each child’s perceptual, motor, and physical development is supported to permit them to fully explore and function in their environment. All children receive health and development screenings, nutritious meals, oral health, and mental health support. Programs connect families with medical, dental, and mental health services to ensure that children are receiving the services they need.

Family well-being: Parents and families are supported in achieving their own goals, such as housing stability, continued education, and financial security. Programs support and strengthen parent-child relationships and engage families around children’s learning and development.

Nationally, the Head Start and Early Head Start program are delivered through 1,700 agencies in local communities and provide services to over a million children every year, in every U.S. state and territory, in farmworker camps, and in over 155 tribal communities. Head Start programming is responsive to the ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage of each child and family. More than 80 percent of children served by Head Start programs are 3- and 4-year-olds.  Infants, toddlers, and pregnant women make up just under 20% of Head Start enrollment, and are served through Early Head Start programs. Early Head Start programs are available to the family until the child turns 3 years old and is ready to transition into Head Start or another pre-K program.

Community Action Agency’s Head Start Preschool Program prepares the area’s most vulnerable young children to succeed in school and in life beyond school. To achieve this, we deliver services to children and families in core areas of learning, health, and family well-being, while engaging parents as partners every step of the way. 


  • Child must be at least three years old and not yet in Kindergarten 
  • The program primarily serves low-income families, however in some cases, non-low-income families may qualify based on individual circumstances 
  • The program serves both typically developing children and children with special needs 

How Can Head Start Help Your Child?

  • Speech, vision, hearing, developmental, social, and emotional screenings
  • Individualized lesson plans
  • Daily transportation at most centers
  • Family goal planning and achievement assistance
  • Nutritious meals and snacks
  • Health and dental practices
  • Preparing children socially and academically for kindergarten and life
  • Additional day care for Head Start children at the Salem and Eastern Gateway Community College locations
  • Research- and evidence-based curriculum
  • In-home visit and school family conferences
  • Various opportunities for parent involvement
Head Start is one of the original War on Poverty programs initiated by President Lyndon B. Johnson. It provides low-income preschoolers and preschoolers with disabilities with classroom instruction, medical screenings and follow-up, educational, recreational, and social activities, and nutritious meals.

All of these activities help the child attain the required skills for entrance into kindergarten. Parental involvement is a major component of the program and parents are encouraged to volunteer in the classroom, and take part in activities and workshops. Student transportation is available to most sites.