Head Start and Early Head Start are child development programs, serving children from birth to age five, expectant mothers and families. The overall goal of Head Start is to increase the social ability of children in low-income families and children with disabilities, and improve the chances of success in school.

Head Start has been the creator in the movement to address the needs of the whole child, including the educational, vocational and material needs of the entire family. Head Start philosophy that parents are the primary educators of their children, and that successful child development programs must involve and empower parents in order to have a lasting impact on the lives of low-income children. This philosophy is reflected in Head Start's administrative structure which includes a parent Policy Council that has decision-making authority.

Head Start began in 1965 and has been recognized through seven presidential administrations for its effectiveness in helping children become more self-confident and successful. Though federally-funded, each program is required to provide a 20 percent local funding match. This nationwide program works through several major areas, including education, health and nutrition, parent involvement and social services. There have been Head Start programs in North Dakota since 1965.

The basic elements of Head Start are regulated through federal Program Performance Standards. Grantees and parents have control over their programs, and each is designed to meet the needs of families in the local community.

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Overview of Head Start

Head Start: A Comprehensive Child Development Program

Broadly, the objectives of Head Start are based on the idea that children deserve the opportunity to enter school ready to learn and that children’s readiness depends on their educational experience, their physical and mental health and the involvement of their parents and families.

The following are objectives of Head Start:

  • The improvement of the child’s health and physical abilities, including appropriate steps to correct present physical and mental problems and to enhance every child’s access to an adequate diet. The improvement of the family’s attitude toward future healthcare and physical abilities.
  • The encouragement of self-confidence, spontaneity, curiosity, and self-discipline which will assist in the development of the child’s social and emotional health.
  • The enhancement of the child’s mental processes and skills with particular attention to conceptual and communications skills.
  • The establishment of patterns and expectations of success for the child, which will create a climate of confidence for present and future learning efforts and overall development.
  • An increase in the ability of the child and the family to relate to each other and to others.
  • The enhancement of the sense of dignity and self-worth within the child and his or her family.

Early Head Start is responding to strong evidence suggesting that early intervention through high quality programs enhances children's physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development; enables parents to be better caregivers and teachers to their children; and helps parents meet their own goals, including economic independence. Early Head Start programs are designed to reinforce and respond to the unique strength and needs of each child and family.

These services include:

  • Quality early education both in and out of the home;
  • Home visits, especially for families with newborns and other infants;
  • Parent education, including parent-child activities;
  • Comprehensive health and mental health services, including services to women before, during, and after pregnancy;
  • Nutrition; and
  • Ongoing support for parents through case management and peer support groups.
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Head Start State Collaboration Project Background

About Head Start Collaboration Offices

The creation of State and National Collaboration Offices is authorized by Section 642B(a)(2)(A) of the Head Start Act. The purpose of the Head Start State and National Collaboration Offices is to guide the work of all collaboration offices. Since 1990, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has awarded Head Start collaboration grants to support the development of multi-agency and public and private partnerships at the state and national levels.

Head Start Collaboration Offices (HSCOs) exist "to facilitate collaboration among Head Start agencies…and entities that carry out activities designed to benefit low-income children from birth to school entry, and their families." They provide a structure and a process for the Office of Head Start (OHS) to work and partner with state agencies and local entities. Together, these partners work to leverage their common interests around young children and their families to formulate, implement, and improve state and local policy and practices.

These partnerships are intended to:

  • Assist in building early childhood systems
  • Provide access to comprehensive services and support for all low-income children
  • Encourage widespread collaboration between Head Start and other appropriate programs, services, and initiatives
  • Augment Head Start's capacity to be a partner in state initiatives on behalf of children and their families
  • Facilitate the involvement of Head Start in state policies, plans, processes, and decisions affecting target populations and other low-income families

Methods of Coordination

The methods by which HSCOs coordinate and lead efforts for diverse entities to work together include:

  • Communication – Convene stakeholder groups for information sharing, planning, and partnering, and serve as a conduit of information between Regional Offices and state and local early childhood systems.
  • Access – Facilitate Head Start agencies' access to and utilization of appropriate entities so Head Start children and families can secure needed services and critical partnerships are formalized.
  • Systems – Support policy, planning, partnerships, and implementation of cross agency state systems for early childhood, including the State Advisory Council, that include and serve the Head Start community.

Scope of Work

OHS has prioritized the goals of the HSCO to guide their work. The six priorities include:

  1. Partnering with state child care systems emphasizing the Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnership Initiative
  2. Working with state efforts to collect data regarding early childhood programs and child outcomes
  3. Supporting the expansion and access of high-quality workforce and career development opportunities for staff
  4. Collaborating with State Quality Rating Improvement Systems (QRIS)
  5. Working with state school systems to ensure continuity between Head Start and Kindergarten Entrance Assessment (KEA)
  6. Any additional regional priorities
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Head Start/Early Head Start Sites (A-L)

BECEP Bismarck Head Start Program*
Director: Laurel Pickard
720 North 14th Street
Bismarck, ND 58501-3623
Phone: (701) 323-4400
Fax: (701) 323-4405

Cankdeska Cikana Community College 0-5 Head Start*
Director: Carrie Widmer
816 3rd Avenue North
Fort Totten, ND 58335
Phone: (701) 766-4070
Fax: (701) 766-1357

Community Action Agency Region VI 0-5 Head Start*
Director: Tammy Hoggarth
1411 12th Avenue NE
Jamestown, ND 58402
Phone: (701) 252-1821
Fax: (701) 252-7108

Community Action Partnership Head Start*
Director: Jennifer Braun
107 3rd Avenue SE
Dickinson, ND 58601
Phone: (701) 227-3010
Toll Free: (877) 546-9420
Fax: (701) 225-1968

Early Explorers Head Start Program*
Director: Allison Driessen
701 Main Street North
Towner, ND 58788-0150
Phone: (701) 537-5409
Fax: (701) 537-5312

Grand Forks Head Start
Director: Tracey Johnson
3600 6th Avenue North
Grand Forks, ND 58203
Phone: (701) 746-2433 ext. 1113
Fax: (701) 746-2450

*Head Start/Early Head Start Sites

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Head Start/Early Head Start Sites (M-Z)

Mayville State University Child Development Programs*
Director: Jessica Amb
Mayville State University
330 3rd Street NE
Mayville, ND 58257
Phone: (701) 788-4868
Toll Free: (800) 437-4104
Fax: (701) 788-4781

Minot Public School District Head Start*
Director: Karen Knowles
2815 Burdick Expressway East
Minot, ND 58701
Phone: (701) 857-4688
Fax: (701) 857-4517

Southeastern North Dakota Community Action Head Start Birth to Five*
Director: Lindsey Perrine
3233 South University Drive
Fargo, ND 58104
Phone: (701) 235-8931
Fax: (701) 298-7622

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe 0-5 Head Start Program*
Director: Carmelita Bear Ribs
200 Proposal Avenue
Fort Yates, ND 58538-0768
Phone: (701) 854-7250
Fax: (701) 854-7257

Three Affiliated Tribes Head Start Program
Director: Kelly Bradfield
509 9th Street North
New Town, ND 58763
Phone: (701) 627-4820
Fax: (701) 627-4401

Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians Head Start Program
Director: Ray Parisien Sr.
1010 Carol James Street
Belcourt, ND 58316
Phone: (701) 477-0260
Fax: (701) 477-8597

West River Head Start Program
Director: Samantha Gregerson
1004 7th Street SW
Mandan, ND 58554
Phone: (701) 663-9507
Fax: (701) 663-9643

Williston Head Start Save the Children
Director: Michelle D. Eslinger-Schneider
409 7th Avenue East
Williston, ND 58801
Phone: (701) 214-4053
Fax: (701) 572-6129

*Head Start/Early Head Start Sites

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Migrant and Seasonal Head Start and Early Head Start Sites

Tri-Valley Opportunity Council Migrant & Seasonal Head Start/Early Head Start
Head Start, Child and Family Programs Director: Lauri Coleman
102 North Broadway
Crookston, MN 56716
Phone: (218) 281-5832
Toll Free: (800) 584-7020

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Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is Head Start?
  • What are the benefits of this program?
  • How can I enroll my child?

Q. What is the definition of income?
A. Income means total cash receipts before taxes from all sources, with the exceptions noted below. Income includes money wages or salary before deductions; net income from non-farm self-employment; net income from farm self-employment; regular payments from Social Security or railroad retirement; payments from unemployment compensation, strike benefits from union funds, worker's compensation, veterans benefits (with the exception noted below), public assistance (including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, Emergency Assistance money payments, and non-Federally funded General Assistance or General Relief money payments); training stipends; alimony, child support, and military family allotments or other regular support from an absent family member or someone not living in the household; private pensions, government employee pensions (including military retirement pay), and regular insurance or annuity payments; college or university scholarships, grants, fellowships, and assistantships; and dividends, interest, net rental income, net royalties, and periodic receipts from estates or trusts; and net gambling or lottery winnings.

As defined here, income does not include capital gains; any assets drawn down as withdrawals from a bank, the sale of property, a house or a car; or tax refunds, gifts, loans, lump-sum inheritances, one-time insurance payments, or compensation for injury. Also excluded are noncash benefits, such as the employer-paid or union-paid portion of health insurance or other employee fringe benefits; food or housing received in lieu of wages; the value of food and fuel produced and consumed on farms; the imputed value of rent from owner-occupied non-farm or farm housing; and such Federal non-cash benefit programs as Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, school lunches, and housing assistance.

The period of time to be considered for eligibility is the twelve months immediately preceding the month in which application or reapplication for enrollment of a child in a Head Start program is made, or for the calendar year immediately preceding the calendar year in which the application or reapplication is made, whichever more accurately reflects the family's current needs.

Q. What are the Family Income Guidelines?
A. Children are eligible to participate in Head Start if they are from low-income families or if their families are eligible for public assistance. The Head Start Act establishes income eligibility for participation in Head Start programs based on the poverty guidelines updated annually in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

2019 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia

For family units with more than 8 members, add $4,160 for each additional member. (The same increment applies to smaller family sizes also, as can be seen in the figures above.)

Q. What is the definition of a "family", "family unit", or "household"?
A. There is no universal administrative definition of "family," "family unit," or "household" that is valid for all programs that use the poverty guidelines. Federal programs in some cases use administrative definitions that differ somewhat from the statistical definitions given below; the Federal office which administers a program has the responsibility for making decisions about its administrative definitions.

The following statistical definitions are made available for illustrative purposes only; in other words, these statistical definitions are not binding for administrative purposes.

Family - A family is a group of two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption who live together; all such related persons are considered as members of one family. For instance, if an older married couple, their daughter and her husband and two children, and the older couple's nephew all lived in the same house or apartment, they would all be considered members of a single family.

Unrelated Individual - An unrelated individual is a person 15 years old or older (other than an inmate of an institution) who is not living with any relatives. An unrelated individual may be the only person living in a house or apartment, or may be living in a house or apartment (or in group quarters such as a rooming house) in which one or more persons also live who are not related to the individual in question by birth, marriage, or adoption.

Household - A household consists of all the persons who occupy a housing unit (house or apartment), whether they are related to each other or not. If a family and an unrelated individual, or two unrelated individuals, are living in the same housing unit, they would constitute two family units, but only one household.

Family unit - As used here, either an unrelated individual or a family (as defined above) constitutes a family unit. In other words, a family unit of size one is an unrelated individual, while a family unit of two/three/etc. is the same as a family of two/three/etc.

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  • The Best Start is a Head Start


Below is a list of sites that provide a wealth of information on Head Start programs in North Dakota and other states, child development and early childhood education, teaching, parenting, child care, daycare, and other topics of interest to parents, teachers, and families.


Child Care

  • Child Care Aware of North Dakota - This site is a training and information hub for child care providers and offers parents customized referrals to licensed child care options as well as ensures that children have the opportunity to play and learn in a safe and healthy environment.
  • Office of Child Care (OCC) - This office supports low-income working families through child care financial assistance and promotes children's learning by improving the quality of early care and education and after-school programs. 
  • Soho Center - An organization that works to improve child care for children in communities across America by piloting innovative, cost-effective outreach, networking, and training strategies. They also develop materials that directly enhance children's literacy and school success with a primary focus on parents and child care providers.

Child Development and Early Childhood Education

  • Department of Human Services Early Childhood Services in North Dakota - This site provides standards and training to providers of early care and education for children containing information for both parents and child care providers.
  • Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center (ECLKC) - ECLKC is a division of the Office of Head Start (Dept. of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families) which provides valuable information and management services to Head Start programs.
  • Early Childhood Research and Practice (ECRP) - ECRP is the first scholarly, peer-reviewed, bilingual open-access electronic journal in the field of early care and education. They publish research reports, literature reviews, essays, interviews, reflections, and commentary on emerging trends and issues by scholars and practitioners from around the world.
  • Future of Children - This site provides information on critical issues related to children's well-being with an emphasis on providing objective analysis and evaluation, translating existing knowledge into effective programs and policies, and encouraging constructive change in institutions.
  • Let's Move Childcare - This website provides child care and early education providers the tools to help children develop healthy habits for life.
  • North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, Early Childhood Special Education - This site provides policy, transition information, early childhood outcomes process, and more.
  • NDKids.Org - This site offers a wealth of information regarding many topics including child development, care, and services, daily life, family types, parenting challenges, play, special needs, taking care of yourself, etc.

Child Health and Health Care

  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) - The AAP is a national organization of pediatricians committed to the attainment of optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.