Head Start is a pre-school comprehensive child development program that promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of education, health, nutritional, social services to children and families.

Specifically, Head Start provides:

  • Language and literacy early childhood education to prepare children for kindergarten;
  • Health services to ensure health is not a barrier to school readiness, which include immunizations and developmental screenings;
  • Social/Emotional early childhood education to ensure the development of appropriate cognitive skills;
  • Social services to help families reach self-sufficiency.22

In Minnesota, approximately 17,716 children were enrolled in Head Start in 2006.

Children must be three years old by the date used to determine eligibility for public school in the community in which the Head Start program is located. Ninety percent of the children enrolled in the Head Start program must be from families whose income does not exceed 100 percent of the poverty level. A grandchild living with a grandparent is eligible as long as the grandparent's income qualifies the child. If you feel that you need a comprehensive child development program for your grandchild, you should apply, even if your income is higher than 100 percent of poverty, because the program will accept a child who has special needs.

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