Helping Families Ensure Their Children Enter School Ready to Learn

Head Start/Early Head Start


Head Start/Early Head Start is a free program for children of families with low incomes, providing comprehensive early learning in both center-based and home-based settings. This successful program helps ensure children’s readiness for school and increases parental knowledge in children’s growth and development.  Episcopal Children’s Services’ Head Start program provides full-day, center-based early learning to children ages 3-5 years, and the Early Head Start program provides full-day, full-year, center-based and home-based early learning to pregnant women and children birth to 3 years of age. The program also provides additional family supports, such as literacy workshops, parenting skills training, and targeted attention on meeting specialized needs in regards to children with disabilities, behavioral challenges, and health concerns. ECS provides Early Head Start services to 1,113 pregnant women, infants, and toddlers in both home-based and center-based settings and Head Start services to 1,840 3- and 4-year olds in center-based settings across Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Dixie, Duval, Gilchrist, Lake, Levy, Marion, and Nassau Counties.

The Head Start/Early Head Start program provides inclusive services in the areas of health, mental health, nutrition, disabilities, and parent and community engagement, in addition to early childhood education as part of a comprehensive approach to school readiness.  All children are screened for developmental progress, health, dental, vision, and hearing.  Head Start offers a nutrition assessment and provides daily nutritious snacks and meals. Any identified concerns are referred to the appropriate professional for treatment. The Head Start/Early Head Start staff understand that to support the child, they must support the whole family, and parent involvement in the classroom and the program is highly encouraged. Parents are their children’s first teachers, and the staff work with the parents to understand and care for the children enrolled in our program.

Matching Requirements:
Programs receiving federal funding under the Head Start Act will not exceed 80% of the total cost of the program. This means that the federal funds provide 80% of the program costs, and federally funded programs are required to raise the remaining 20% of the total cost of the program, known as Non-Federal Share (or in-kind).  This “Cost Sharing or Matching” is the value of third party in-kind contributions or cash match.

What is acceptable as Non-Federal Match?

  • The reasonable value of time donated by community members, board, policy council, and parents in conducting the performance standards self-assessment and/or attending business meetings.
  • Volunteer time, valued at an appropriate hourly rate for the type of services provided.
  • Parent Involvement, such as working in the classroom and participating in policy council or center committee business meetings.
  • Travel mileage for parents, community partners, or interns when traveling to and from sites with a purpose directly benefiting the classroom or program.
  • Fair market rental value for space, if the property is not owned by the grantee.
  • Cash contributions.
  • Donated space and/or equipment.
  • Donated goods and/or services.

To help us raise the required 20% match, we have established monthly supply and volunteer drives. Please click here to view the drives. If you would like to donate your time, cash, goods, or services, please contact our office at 904-726-1500. You may also contact a Head Start/Early Head Start program directly to donate your time or supplies. Please click here for contact information.

To apply, CLICK HERE!

Click here for Head Start locations.

For more information about Head Start, click here.

For more information about Early Head Start, click here.

Early Head Start Printable Forms:

Click to Download Flyer Click to Download Flyer – Spanish

Click here to view ECS Annual Reports and Community Assessments.