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What is Early Head Start?


OVEC’s Early Head Start is a year-round program that provides for children from 6 weeks through age three and their families. Early Head Start children and their families receive:

  • High-quality early childhood education in a warm and nurturing relationship-based environment

  • Parent education and engagement

  • Health and mental health services or referrals

  • Nutrition education

  • Family support services


I don’t need child care.  Why should I send my baby to Early Head Start?

Children’s brains are developing very fast in the early years from birth to age five.  Your baby’s early experiences have lifelong effects on their likelihood to succeed later in school and in life.  While you are your baby’s first and most important teacher, babies don’t come with instruction books. 

High quality early education is an important way to help make sure your baby will be ready for kindergarten when the time comes.  Children who are in high quality early learning programs are healthier, more self-sufficient, and less likely to get in trouble later in life.  Children who attend the Early Head Start program participate in various educational activities. They also receive some free medical and dental care services, have healthy meals and snacks, and enjoy playing indoors and outdoors in a safe setting.

Why do you provide these other services?

Babies learn most from their day-to-day interactions with you – their family.  We help you understand your baby’s development, and support you as you support their growth and development.  We also help to make sure that the baby, and you, have access to any services you might need along the way.


Children can only learn effectively if their basic needs are met.  We help provide access to health services for your baby as well as help you may need for food, shelter, or safety.  We help to take care of the whole family, so that your children can thrive in a supportive environment.  We want to be your partner.


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How can I get involved?


Early Head start encourages parent involvement through regular visits to the child’s home, regular opportunities for you to volunteer in the program, and special activities. Head Start and Early Head Start programs also link children and families to other services in the community.

My child has special needs.  Can Early Head start help him or her?

Head Start programs help all participating children succeed. They are required to serve children with special needs, such as physical and developmental delays or homelessness.

How do I qualify?

A child from 6 weeks to age five is categorically eligible for or Early Head Start if they are:

  • homeless,

  • in foster care,

  • or a recipient of public assistance (TANF or SSI)

 or if the family income is determined to be below the income figures published annually by the federal government as the Poverty Guidelines.

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