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Early Head Start

This resource is for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia patients to learn more about Early Head Start.

What is Early Head Start?

Early Head Start is a free, community-based program for low-income families with pregnant women, infants, and toddlers up to age 3 years. Families benefit from comprehensive child development and family support services focusing on areas such as child development, health, well-being, and safety at home. Parents are given emotional support to become more confident and effective guardians for their children.


  • Children are born ready to learn.

  • Home Visiting ensures parents' well-being and capabilities to support their child's development.

  • Participating families are provided information on health, nutrition, social development, and other community resources.

What services are offered?

  • Home visits with fun baby and toddler activities.

  • Parent-child playgroups.

  • Support for families.


Pregnant women and families with children under the age of 3 years.

How do I know if I qualify?

Qualification is based on your child’s age and your family’s income. Children in foster care, those experiencing homelessness, and children from families receiving public assistance (TANF or SSI) are automatically eligible for Early Head Start services regardless of income.

Are children with disabilities eligible?

Yes, children with disabilities are eligible regardless of income.

Can my child enroll in Early Head Start if they or someone in my family are not citizens of the United States?

Yes, a child can enroll in Early Head Start without regard to their immigration status or U.S. citizenship. The parent’s immigration status or citizenship does not matter for eligibility.

What do I need to apply for Early Head Start?

Below is a list of things that you need to apply. Once your child is enrolled, you will be asked to provide a copy of your child’s most recent physical form. Your child’s healthcare provider can prepare this for you. Additional health updates may be required.

Child’s birth certificate or social security card

Child’s medical insurance or Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) Card

Proof of address (one of these)

  • Current lease

  • Current utility bill

  • Current credit card or another bill

  • Current pay stub with your address on it

Proof of Income (one of these)

  • Three most recent pay stubs

  • 1040 tax statement

  • W2 form

  • Public assistance form

  • Any other form of income

What if I cannot find these things?

You can reach out to the Early Head Start program without these documents. The program may be able to help you get new copies of them.

How do I find an Early Head Start program near me?

To find the Early Head Start program in your neighborhood, call Early Head Start information specialists at (866) 763-6481.

Reviewed in November 2023, by Marsha Gerdes, PhD; Sherita Williams MS, PHMA

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