Join Our Early/Head Start Network

As a federal Head Start grantee, Start Early provides funding and guidance to community-based agencies across Illinois. Learn more about becoming a Head Start program and the benefits of joining our network.

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Benefits of Partnership

Young child from Educare DuPage

As a federal Head Start grantee, Start Early convenes a network of community-based agencies across Illinois designed to continually improve our practices. Each agency brings deep community relationships, unique perspectives and strategies to strengthen the early childhood field. As a part of our commitment to expanding services to more families, we are always looking for new agency partners that are interested in joining our Early/Head Start Network.

When your community-based agency becomes a Head Start and/or Early Head Start program, you can expect comprehensive support so that your agency can reach its fullest potential. Some of the services we provide include:

  • Ongoing in-depth guidance and support to ensure quality early childhood services and programs meet and exceed industry standards
  • Research-backed professional development courses and trainings with ongoing program implementation support
  • Hands-on mentorship to empower directors, managers, and content-area coordinators to effectively manage your program
  • Guidance on health and wellness programming and support services
  • Support with staff hiring and retention
  • Technical assistance

Provider Interest Form

Thank you for your interest in becoming an Head Start and/or Early Head Start provider in Illinois. To get started, please complete this interest form and someone will be in touch with you within 3-5 business days.

For currently licensed child care providers

Note: We operate in specific, census-designated high-need areas. If your location falls outside of our service areas, we can work on determining if your agency’s service area is considered high-need, but cannot guarantee partnership.

Currently served: How many children, per age group, are currently being served?
Federal Poverty Guidelines

Early Head Start and Head Start eligibility is based on age, income and need. The majority of families must be below poverty or priority population. There is an allowance for a small percentage of children between 101-130% poverty and over income. Priority populations are families receiving TANF/SSI, foster children and families in temporary living situations.

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Frequently Asked Questions

See some of the most common questions and answers on becoming a Head Start and/or Early/Head Start program and joining Start Early’s Early/Head Start Network

Please complete the provide interest form on this page. Once your program information is received, one of our program liaison managers will reach out to you within two business days to discuss next steps.

Partner with Us

The application process is unique to each specific program applicant and the recipient’s (Start Early’s Early/Head Start Network’s) current availability of funding. The process includes an assessment and application process, which can take up to six months.

Criteria for Consideration: 
-Your program is located within Start Early’s current service areas.
-Your center-based program must have a current DCFS license, or be license exempt.
-Start Early’s Early/Head Start Network will review your program’s DCFS Sunshine Report and assess violations within the last three years. Your program must have no violations or fewer than 10 corrected or substantiated minor violations.
-A minimum of two classrooms for the requested program option.
-Your program must currently be operating at 97% enrollment capacity (children enrolled) and have an active waitlist.

As a Head Start recipient, Start Early’s Early/Head Start Network, provides comprehensive guidance on data-backed early learning practices via our team of subject matter experts (SMEs).

Specifically, we provide direction and support on the following areas:
Eligibility, recruitment, selection, enrollment, and attendance (ERSEA); education; disabilities services; mental health services; parent, family and community engagement; environmental health and safety; data/continuous quality improvement; and professional development opportunities.

Your agency’s success is our main goal, and we ensure unparalleled financial support and resources for our programs.  

Yes. During the first year of the partnership, your program will be assigned a program liaison manager, who will help facilitate your transition into a Head Start program and onboarding as a part of our network. Meetings will occur weekly at a minimum. In addition, attending monthly content area and leadership trainings is a requirement of partnership.

Our Community-Based Agencies

Start Early currently partners with a select number of community-based agencies to deliver quality early learning and care to more than 2,000 children and families across Illinois. Learn more about our partners and their services, by visiting our family recruitment page.

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