HHS Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2007–2012 (Strategic Plan). Early Care and Education

11/22/2015

ACF’s Head Start and Early Head Start programs are comprehensive child development programs that serve children from birth to age 5, pregnant women, and their families. Head Start is designed to foster healthy development and school readiness in low-income children. Head Start programs help ensure that children are ready to succeed at school by supporting social and cognitive development. Head Start programs provide comprehensive child development services, including educational, health, nutritional, and social services, primarily to low-income families. They also engage parents in their child’s preschool experience by helping them achieve their own educational and literacy goals as well as employment goals, supporting parents’ role in their children’s learning, and emphasizing the direct involvement of parents in the administration of local Head Start programs. Early Head Start has a triple mission. It promotes healthy prenatal outcomes, enhances the development of infants and toddlers, and promotes healthy family functioning. HHS will continue to explore how to maximize the use of technology to disseminate information and research in ways that will improve programs and performance. HHS will investigate ways that Head Start and child care can collaborate with other State and local partners, such as State prekindergarten programs, to ensure that children enter school ready to succeed.

Several collaborative efforts between HHS and the U.S. Department of Education support early childhood programs and research. The Good Start, Grow Smart interagency workgroup, with HHS representatives from ACF/Office of Head Start, ACF/Child Care Bureau, NIH, and ASPE, focuses on enhancing early childhood programs and fosters better collaboration among agencies serving young children at risk. The Interagency School Readiness Initiative engages the same operating and staff divisions from HHS and the U.S. Department of Education to focus on enhancing early childhood research. Another interagency collaboration, the Early Childhood Workgroup on English Language Learners, involves ACF and ASPE in developing strategies for coordination of early childhood programs aimed at English Language Learners.

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