Head Start and Early Head Start

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
703-324-8290 TTY 711
Pennino Building, 12011 Government Center Parkway, Suite 920
Fairfax, VA 22035
Flor Philips

Early Head Start Age 0-3 and Pregnant Women

banner head start children posing for photo


What options and locations are available for Early Head Start?

There are three types of Early Head Start programs:

Center-based: This option provides school readiness services for infants and toddlers in a classroom setting. Teachers implement developmentally appropriate activities that prepare children for school in all areas of development. Infants and toddlers are nurtured and educated through relationships with caregivers and their daily routines. Children receive healthy meals and snacks to ensure their nutritionally needs are met.

Home-based: Through weekly visits, Early Heads Start staff work with parents to provide stimulating learning activities for young children within their own home environment. Transportation is provided for children and parents to attend group activities twice a month at an Early Head Start site.

Family child care: Early Head Start services are provided in a family child care provider's home while parents are in school, at work or attending job-training. Infants and toddlers engage in routine activities and learning experiences that support their social-emotional, cognitive and physical areas of development. Parents are actively involved in planning the learning experiences their children receive. Only parents meeting the income-eligibility, living in Fairfax County and working and/or in school for at least 35 hours a week are eligible for the family child care program.


Greater Mount Vernon Community Head Start operates a full-day, full-year program for children from birth to age five for families in the south end of Fairfax County. Preschool and infant/toddler services are provided in the center-based option.

Greater Mount Vernon Community Head Start
Gum Springs Children’s Center
8100 Fordson Road, Alexandria, VA 22306
Offers Head Start and Early Head Start center-based option in the Route 1 area.
To apply, please call or visit our office.

Higher Horizons operates a full-day, full-year program for children from birth to age five in the Bailey’s Crossroads area. Preschool services are provided in the center-based option. Infant/toddler services are provided in the center-based and home-based options.

Falls Church/Bailey’s Crossroad
Higher Horizons Day Care Center, Inc.
5920 Summers Lane, Bailey’s Crossroads, VA 22041
Offers Head Start and Early Head Start center-based and Early Head Start home-based options in the Annandale and Falls Church areas.

Fairfax County Public Schools operates a school-year program for preschool children across the county during the school year. The Fairfax County Public Schools Early Head Start program is operated full-day, full-year in the Herndon/Reston area. Preschool services are provided in the center-based option. Infant/toddler services are provided in the center-based options.

Fairfax County Public Schools
Alan E. Leis Center
7423 Camp Alger Ave., Falls Church, VA 22042
703-208-7900, Español 703-208-7901
Offers Head Start and Early Head Start center-based option throughout Fairfax County.

Office for Children Early Head Start Family Child Care offers full-day, full-year programs in multiple locations across the county in participating Family Child Care Provider homes.

Office for Children Early Head Start Family Child Care
Pennino Building (Main Office)
12011 Government Center Pkwy, 9th Floor, Fairfax, VA 22035
To apply, please call or visit our office.

What services are available through the Early Head Start programs?

Early Head Start is a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children in families with low income. Early Head Start serves children from birth to age three and pregnant women. Early Head Start programs help prepare children for success in school through:


  • Supporting social and emotional development
  • Developing language and literacy skills

Disability Services

  • Screening for developmental delays
  • Accessing educational and behavioral services for children with special need


  • Accessing healthy meals and snacks
  • Locating prenatal care for pregnant women
  • Connecting families to health care services, including dental and mental health services

Family Services

  • Parenting Workshops
  • Becoming a Parent Volunteer
  • Job Training, transportation assistance and other community support
How can I apply to participate in the Early Head Start program?

Children and their families are eligible for Early Head Start based on three criteria:

  • Income-eligibility.
  • Residence in Fairfax County.
  • Age-eligibility (birth to three and pregnant women).

Additional requirements apply for those families who enroll in Early Head Start family child care programs.

Eligibility Requirements

Your family may be eligible for Early Head Start services if your family's income is determined to be at or below poverty level. Families are selected based on need.

Programs may enroll some children from families whose incomes are higher than the federal poverty level if they meet other eligibility requirements. Families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Social Security Income (SSI) or are homeless or have children in foster care also qualify for services. Families applying for the Family Child Care option have additional criteria that parents (both, if two-parent family) must be working or in school.

Families must provide proof of income, proof of residency and proof of age. (For Family Child Care, a parent in school full-time must provide a course schedule or letter from the school). Application forms and documents required may vary slightly by location.

Examples of required eligibility documents (for detailed info, call program):

  • Proof of income: 1040 and W2s, paystubs
  • Proof of public assistance: TANF paperwork, SSI paperwork (these two forms of public assistance are the only ones that are automatically eligible)
  • Proof of residency: current lease, deed, resident manager's letter, lease, affidavit, rental agreement, telephone bill or utility bill which is addressed to them or lists the parent as an occupant
  • Proof of age: birth certificate or other legal document

Although there are many Early Head Start slots available throughout the county, there may be a waiting list for services, depending on the time of year and specific location. If your family is placed on a waiting list, it means that while you are eligible to participate in the program, you may be selected if and when space becomes available.

Once enrolled, children will be placed in an Early Head Start program and will begin to receive services.

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