Early Head Start

Supporting what all families need to thrive.

Early Head Start is the only federal program dedicated to comprehensively promoting healthy child and family development for pregnant women, infants, and toddlers living in families with incomes below the poverty line. As a two-generation program, Early Head Start creates opportunities for both parents and children, helping parents improve their economic security while ensuring their children are on a solid path to engage in lifelong learning. 

As the economic and social aftermath of COVID-19 continues, Early Head Start is poised to offer babies safe care and crucial developmental services; support families in finding work and dealing with the losses and stresses of the pandemic and its aftermath; and work at the community level to address the needs of young children and families most vulnerable to the pandemic’s long term impacts.    

Take Action

Tell Congress to #ThinkBabiesAndAct and support Early Head Start!


Nearly 1 in 5 infants and toddlers live in poverty and are eligible for Early Head Start.


Early Head Start only reaches 7% of eligible infants and toddlers.


In a rigorous study, Early Head Start showed positive impacts across a broad set of factors, including boosting babies’ learning, language, health, and behavior.

Legislation At-A-Glance

Funding Early Head Start

Early Head Start promotes the healthy development of babies, toddlers, and pregnant women to ensure that all children have the same opportunities to succeed. However, this critical program’s current funding only allows it to serve 7% of eligible families. Each year, Congress has the opportunity to increase funding for Early Head Start through the Appropriations process.

What it could mean for babies:

With additional funding, Early Head Start could expand to ensure that more babies and families with low-incomes across the country get the support they need to thrive. Expanding Early Head Start helps lay a strong foundation for infants and toddlers, boosting learning, language, health, and behavioral development.

Advocacy Tools & Resources

State of Babies Yearbook: 2021: Use national and state-by-state data on the well-being of infants and toddlers to call on federal and state policymakers to improve outcomes for babies and families.

Building Strong FoundationsRead this brief for information on how comprehensive approaches like Early Head Start support infants, toddlers, and families.   

25 years of Early Head StartWatch this video to learn more about the program and its impact on the lives of babies and their families over the years.