Established in 1965, Head Start is a federally funded, early childhood development program administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that serves low-income children from birth to age five and their families. Income-eligible families are connected to education, health care, nutrition, parenting, and other supportive social services. Head Start is primarily comprised of two components: Early Head Start (EHS), for children zero to three years of age and pregnant women, and Head Start (HS), for children ages three to five. Head Start policies recognize that homeless children are more at risk for developmental delays; chronic and acute health problems; and behavioral, emotional, and mental health issues than their housed peers. With the passage of the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007, all homeless children were made automatically eligible for EHS and HS programs and all states were called to identify and prioritize homeless children for enrollment. Homelessness also became one of ten federally mandated service and priority areas to be overseen by state Head Start Collaboration Offices—offices that coordinate services between Head Start grantees and other state and local entities. (author abstract)
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