Children ages 3-4 with disabilities may be able to join a local Head Start program. Head Start programs offer a stimulating setting where children with disabilities can interact with typically developing preschoolers. At the same time, they can get necessary services and supports. In fact, Head Start services are designed to address a broad range of abilities, experiences, and learning styles exhibited by all preschoolers from a wide variety of backgrounds.
Head Start programs prepare economically disadvantaged children for school by providing the early reading and math skills they will need to be successful in kindergarten and beyond. Local Head Start providers also work in conjunction with other service providers and government agencies to meet the educational, health, nutritional, social and other needs of enrolled children and families. Head Start programs emphasize parent involvement and work closely with families in the education of their children.
Family income is the primary eligibility requirement for admission into a Head Start program. According to national eligibility guidelines, at least 90 percent of the students participating in local Head Start programs must come from families with incomes at or below the poverty line. In addition, 10 percent of the preschoolers enrolled must be children with disabilities.
Children with disabilities cannot be denied placement in a Head Start program if 1) space is available and 2) the program can serve the child by drawing down other sources of funding (i.e., IDEA-funded preschool services).
Head Start programs are administered by local agencies and/or school districts. If your child participated in ECI, your service provider can direct you to the local Head Start provider and help you with the application process. You may also contact your Head Start provider directly. Head Start staff will provide the required forms, answer questions about the program, and help you find the nearest Head Start Center in your community.
To locate the Texas Head Start program closest to your home, go to The Head Start Locator website and enter your address.
Preschool Programs for Children with Disabilities (PPCD)
- Head Start and Early Head Start – U.S. Dept of Administration for Children & Families provides information to help understand needs and services of children with disabilities enrolled in Head Start/Early Head Start programs
- Head Start Early Learning Frameworks: Birth to Age 5 - Describes the skills, behavior and knowledge that Head Start programs nurture in all children.
Head Start Policy – Laws, rules & regulations about Head Start