What is Head Start?

Head Start is a comprehensive child development program which serves children age 3 to 5 and their families. It is a child-focused program that has the overall goal of increasing the school readiness of young children in low-income families.

The Head Start program is administered by the Head Start Bureau (HSB), the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The Head Start program has a long tradition of delivering comprehensive and high quality services designed to foster healthy development in low-income children. Head Start grantee and delegate agencies provide a range of individualized services in the areas of education and early childhood development; medical, dental, and mental health; nutrition; and parent involvement. In addition, the entire range of Head Start services is responsive and appropriate to each child’s and family’s developmental, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage and experience.

All Head Start programs must adhere to Program Performance Standards which define the services that Head Start Programs are to provide to the children and families they serve. They constitute the expectations and requirements that Head Start grantees must meet. They are designed to ensure that the Head Start goals and objectives are implemented successfully, that the Head Start philosophy continues to thrive, and that all grantee and delegate agencies maintain the highest possible quality in the provision of Head Start services. To see the Head Start Program Performance Standards click here.

Related Links


  • HSB
  • ACYF
  • ACF
  • HHS
  • Head Start Centers

Eligibility Requirements

  • Federal Income Guidelines
  • AFS
Head Start at UMCHS

UMCHS is funded to serve 471 (338 Head Start 77 Oregon PreK and 56 Early Head Start) age and income eligible preschool children and their families. These children are served in 18 Centers and offer a variety of program models in order to meet family needs.

Eligibility Requirements

Children must be 3 or 4 years of age on or before September 1 of the program year.
The family must meet Federal Income Guidelines or be receiving TANF services through Adult and Family Services (AFS).


Funding for the Head Start program includes both Federal (Administration for Children and Families) and State (Oregon Department of Education) dollars.
In Oregon, Head Start is jointly funded by the federal Head Start Bureau and the Oregon Department of Education.

For more information on the Oregon Head Start Prekindergarden program visit the Oregon Department of Education’s Early Childhood Education Web Page.