Does a Child from an Early Head Start Program Automatically Qualify for Head Start at the Age of Three?
The child does not automatically qualify for a preschool Head Start program. The family's income must be redetermined before enrollment into preschool Head Start. If the family no longer meets the income eligibility for Head Start, one of two things can happen.
- The child can be enrolled as over-income if this meets the local program's selection and enrollment criteria. Head Start programs are allowed to offer 10% of their enrollment to children whose families are above the federal poverty guideline.
- As part of the transition planning for and with the family, Early Head Start is responsible for helping to find an appropriate non-Head Start preschool placement if that is what is needed.
- The Program Performance Standards cite that the transition planning should begin six months prior to the child's third birthday. Since children and families often experience transitions from one program option to another throughout their participation in Early Head Start, transition planning can begin even earlier and be an ongoing process that is integrated into the family partnership plans.
Performance Standards, Title 45, Code of Federal Regulations:
- 1305.7(c) When a child moves from a program serving infants and toddlers to a Head Start program serving children age three and older, the family income must be re-verified. If one agency operates both an Early Head Start and a Head Start program, and the parents wish to enroll their child who has been enrolled in the agency's Early Head Start program, the agency must ensure, whenever possible, that the child receives Head Start services until enrolled in school.
- 1304.41(c)(1) Grantee and delegate agencies must establish and maintain procedures to support successful transitions for enrolled children and families from previous child care programs into Early Head Start or Head Start and from Head Start into elementary school, a Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education preschool program, or other child care settings.
- 1304.41(c)(2) To ensure the most appropriate placement and services following participation in Early Head Start, transition planning must be undertaken for each child and family at least six months prior to the child's third birthday.
How do I Find a Local Head Start Program?
You can search for local Head Start Programs here.
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Health and Human Services.
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