Program Performance Standards

Head Start must adhere to the Program Performance Standards.  This document defines the services that Head Start Programs are to provide to the children and families they serve.  The performance standards constitute the expectations and requirements that Head Start must meet.  They are designed to ensure that the Head Start goals and objectives are implemented successfully, that the Head Start philosophy continues to thrive, and that all grantees maintain the highest possible quality in the provision of Head Start services. 

Website for Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center (ECLKC)


Services Provided to Head Start Participants Mandated in the Performance Standards

Health Services

  • Determine health status of each child, which includes physical and dental exams.
  • Complete developmental, sensory and behavior screenings within 45 calendar days of the child’s entry into the program. 
    Provide mental health services for children.
  • Extend follow-up and treatment plans.
  • Establish a health advisory committee that works with the program to address needs of Head Start families and also community needs.
  • Work to include the parent in all aspects of the child’s participation in the program.
  • Identify and work with parents to ensure that the nutritional needs of the child are being addressed.
  • Recruit and serve children with disabilities in an inclusive environment. 

Education and Early Childhood Development

  • Provide a program that is developmentally and linguistically appropriate.
  • Provide a program that is inclusive of children with disabilities.
  • Provide an environment that supports gender, culture, language, ethnicity and family composition.
  • Provide a program that is balanced with daily activities that are both child and teacher initiated.
  • Provide a variety of activities that enhance the individual strengths of the child and develop independence and self-worth of each child.
  • Provide opportunities for creative expression through activities of art, music, movement and dialogue.
  • Ensure that each parent identifies the importance of his/her role in the education of the child and work to develop their abilities.
  • Provide a program that supports emerging literacy and numeracy development according to the developmental level of each child. 

Family Partnerships

  • Establish collaborative partnership-building with parents to build mutual trust and to identify family goals, strengths, and necessary services and supports. 
  • Develop and implement individualized family partnership agreements.
  • Assist parents to access services necessary to meet their needs.
  • Communicate with parents through follow-up contacts to determine if services are being accessed.  

Community Partnerships

  • Develop partnerships with community agencies to improve community services to children and families.
  • Formulate a community resource directory that helps parents to identify agencies in the community.
  • Schedule a community advisory meeting to facilitate awareness to community services.
  • Coordinate the transitioning of children entering the program and exiting the program. 
  • Complete a community assessment to determine strengths of community and areas of need.