FAQ: Early Head Start

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Early Head Start?

The reauthorization of the Head Start Act in 1994 made it possible to establish Early Head Start as a program that covers children from the day they are born up to the age of 3. It serves pregnant women and their families to provide services for the family and child upon delivery.

What does Early Head Start do?

Early Head Start provides early, continuous, intensive, and comprehensive child development and family support services to low-income infants and toddlers and their families, as well as pregnant women and their families.

How much does Early Head Start cost?

There is no cost for eligible families to participate in the Early Head Start program.

Is my child eligible for Early Head Start?

Children from 6 weeks old to age 3 from families with low income, according to the Poverty Guidelines published by the federal government, are eligible for Early Head Start services. Children in foster care, homeless children, and children from families receiving public assistance (TANF or SSI) are automatically eligible for Early Head Start services regardless of income.

When should I apply for my child?

Early Head Start serves pregnant women and children from six weeks to age 3. Although a child can be in Early Head Start anytime from six weeks to age 3, the intent of Early Head Start is to intervene early and provide intensive, individualized services throughout the first three years of a child’s life. Programs serving pregnant women are expected to enroll the newborn into child development services.

Does Early Head Start really benefit children and families?

A national evaluation found that 3-year-old Early Head Start children performed significantly better on a range of measures of cognitive, language, and social-emotional development. Also, the parents of the 3-year-olds scored significantly higher than the control group of parents on many aspects of the home environment and parenting behavior. There were impacts for parents on progress toward self-sufficiency, and for fathers specifically.

Where are the Early Head Start Centers located?

4C administers Early Head Start Centers in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties. To see a list of locations, click here.

How do I register for Early Head Start?

Call the following numbers, according to your county of residence, to find out how, where, and when to apply for Early Head Start.

  • Orange County: 407-532-4365.
  • Osceola County: 321-219-6201.
  • Seminole County: 407-332-5090 (Longwood) or 407-915-6510 (Sanford).

You will need the following documentation to complete your application:

  • Proof of age: Passport, baptismal certificate, medical records, birth certificate.
  • Proof of county residence: Lease, voter registration, deed.
  • Proof of income: Four recent pay stubs, AFDC warrant, Child Support Document, W-2 form, last year’s tax return, most recent paycheck stub for all family members who work, child support, if applicable; school scholarship info, if applicable; SSI or TANF proof, if applicable.[/su_spoiler]