early head start

Early Head Start (EHS) provides no-cost full day/full year child care for eligible families and their children under the age of 3.

Find out if you’re eligible for funding assistance

How does it work?

Early Head Start focuses on the needs of pregnant women, infants, and toddlers.

EHS funds many flexible child care options, including programs at child care centers, in private homes or a combination of home and center-based services.  EHS also offers weekly educational supports in your home as an option for you to continue to support your child’s development outside of the classroom.

In addition to providing education services, EHS programs support the mental, social, and emotional development of your child by providing information on health, nutrition, and other services. Healthy snacks and meals are served throughout the day.

Programs are available until your child turns 3 years old. Once your child turns 3, you may apply for Head Start funding or PHLpreK.

Am I Eligible?

You are likely eligible for Early Head Start if:

  • Your child is younger than 3 years old. Your child may be older than 3 years old if they are in the process of transitioning into Head Start.
  • You meet income guidelines: Your child’s eligibility to receive EHS funding is based on your family’s size and income. To be eligible to receive EHS funding, your total annual family income must be 100% or less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Look below to see whether you’re likely to quality for EHS funding based on the number of people in your family and how much you make:
Family Size
Maximum Yearly Family Income (May 2016)
2 $16,240
3 $20,420
4 $24,600
5 $28,780
6 $32,960
7 $37,140
8 $41,320

Families experiencing homelessness or children who are in foster care are automatically eligible to receive Early Head Start funding.

Families who receive SSI or TANF are also automatically eligible.

How to Apply

To see if your family is eligible for EHS, you will need to contact an EHS program directly.

Find an EHS program in your area by:

  • Visiting our quality child care map here
  • Using the Head Start Locator here (and below)
  • Calling 1-866-763-6481 (toll-free)

Once you have identified a local program, contact them directly for more information. They will provide you with the required forms and can answer questions about their specific program.

Where Can I Learn More?

  • Visit the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center here
  • Learn more about enrollment in Early Head Start here

other available funding

Child Care Subsidy (CCIS)
CCIS helps eligible families of children 0-13 pay for child care.
Early Head Start
Early Head Start (EHS) provides no-cost full day/full year child care for eligible families and their children under the age of 3.
Head Start
Head Start (HS) provides no-cost full day/full year child care for eligible families and their children ages 3 to 5 at agencies in your local community.
Pre-K Counts
Pre-K Counts provides no cost pre-kindergarten education for eligible children ages 3 to 5.
PHLpreK
PHLpreK provides locally funded, affordable pre-K programs for 3 and 4 year olds.
Eligibility Calculator
Use the Eligibility Calculator to find out if you qualify for child care and pre-K funding.
Call Center
For help locating and applying for pre-K and other quality child care programs, call 844-PHL-PREK (844-745-7735).