Review Method


Early Head Start an effective state strategy to impact:

Early Head Start (EHS) improves aspects of parental health and emotional wellbeing, nurturing child-parent relationships, and optimal child health and development, although evidence within these goals is somewhat mixed. EHS also supports participation in high-quality early care and education. States currently support EHS by providing supplemental state funding, leveraging federal funding, and creating state-specific programs with similar structures and quality standards as EHS. However, the current evidence base does not provide clear guidance for the optimal level of funding or best method for states to support Early Head Start.

Early Head Start (EHS) is a program serving low-income pregnant women, infants, toddlers, and their families by providing child development and family support services in home-based, center-based, and family child care settings. By providing children with individualized services and high-quality early care and learning environments and building parents’ skills and community connections, EHS can directly and indirectly support children’s wellbeing and development. Although EHS is primarily a federal-to-local program, states vary in how they financially support EHS, either by investing state funding directly to EHS providers in the state or by acting as a state EHS or Early Head Start–Child Care Partnership grantee, or by creating a state-specific program with similar structures and quality standards as EHS. The current evidence base does not provide clear guidance for how states can best support EHS, either through supplemental funding or other mechanisms.

Download the Complete Evidence Review

Early Head Start Evidence Review (PDF)

Recommended Citation:
Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center. (2022). Prenatal-to-3 policy clearinghouse evidence review: Early Head Start (ER 10C.1022). Peabody College of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University.

Updated September 2022