RI Head Start Programs Accepting Applications for Upcoming School Year

Published on Thursday, July 27, 2023

The Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Rhode Island Head Start Association (RIHSA) would like to remind pregnant women and families with children ages birth - 5 that Head Start programs are accepting applications for the 2023-24 school year. Launched in 1965, Head Start is nationally recognized in the field of early childhood education for providing innovative, high-quality, comprehensive support services to children and families to prepare them for success in kindergarten and beyond.

“The RI Head Start Association values it's continued partnership with DHS to augment Head Start services in RI,” said Linda Laliberte, Chair of the RI Head Start Association and Vice President of Head Start and Early Head Start at East Bay Community Action Program. “Our ongoing collaboration to connect early childhood education and services to families has immediate and lifelong advantages positively impacting RI's future.”

“DHS strives for all Rhode Islanders to have the opportunity to thrive at home, work, and in the community,” said Kimberly Merolla-Brito, DHS Director. "Head Start programs are a critical community partner in supporting families trying to access high quality early care and education.”

DHS works collaboratively with community partners to deliver critical benefits, supports and services to more than 300,000 families, adults, children, older adults, individuals with disabilities and veterans every year. The agency is part of the solution to end poverty and food insecurity, and is critical in making a lasting, positive impact on the State’s health and future.

Early Head Start and Head Start services are free of charge to enrolled children and families and adhere to the evidence-based Head Start Program Performance Standards. Children and families in all 39 Rhode Island cities and towns are eligible for services and they are delivered through seven agencies - CHILD, Inc., Children’s Friend, Comprehensive Community Action Program, East Bay Community Action Program, Meeting Street, Tri-County Community Action Agency and Woonsocket Head Start Child Development Association, Inc., who structure their programs to meet needs of families in their community. Head Start programs deliver services to children and families in core areas of early learning, health, and family well-being while engaging families every step of the way.

Families with the greatest need are prioritized for enrollment. Once a family is enrolled, they are entitled to maintain their slot until their child ages out of each model. Families who meet one or more of the following criteria are considered categorically eligible and are encouraged to apply:

  • Living at or below the Federal Poverty Level
  • Receiving Public Assistance
    • SNAP
    • SSI (for the child)
    • RI Works
  • Youth is in Foster Care
  • Experiencing Homelessness

There is an array of Head Start models available in Rhode Island. Early Head Start is for pregnant women and children through age 3 and is available in home-based or center-based settings. Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships is available to families who meet the Head Start guidelines and receive the Starting Right Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP voucher) issued through DHS for children ages birth to 3, in a center-based setting. Head Start is offered through center-based slots for children ages 3-5.

Families must apply to the provider that serves their community. Services, hours and enrollment requirements vary by provider, program and location. Providers will help families understand the enrollment requirements. Contact information and additional program details for each provider can be found on the RIHSA website at https://www.riheadstartassociation.org/. Slots are limited, so contact your local program today.