Does Your Child Qualify for Free Preschool?

5 Things You Need to Know About Head Start in New Orleans

Did you know? Catholic Charities has been providing New Orleans area children and families with a “Head Start” in life for more than 40 years. Our Head Start and Early Head Start programs provide FREE education, health services and meals for qualifying children from birth to 5 years of age.

Learn more about who can take advantage of free preschool and early childhood development services through our Head Start programs:

Who Qualifies for Head Start?

To enroll in our Head Start programs, you must be a resident of Orleans Parish.

Families with children ages birth to 5 years old (including children with disabilities) that fall within 0 – 100% of the Poverty Guidelines published by the Federal government are eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services. In order to qualify, you must have an annual household income (before taxes) that is below the following amounts:

Federal poverty guidelines for 2016

Families with children that have disabilities who fall within 101 – 130% of the Poverty Guidelines may also be considered for the program.

Children in foster care, homeless children, and children from families receiving public assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Supplemental Security Income) are also eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services, regardless of income.

A few of our New Orleans area Head Start preschool students

What Services Are Included in Head Start?

Our Head Start and Early Head Start programs offer New Orleans families a variety of services including:

  • Early childhood education
  • Health services (medical and dental)
  • Social services
  • Mental health services
  • Nutrition services

Children enrolled in Head Start get free access to preschool, where they are taught language, math and science concepts, and social and emotional development. Children also receive health and developmental screenings, nutritious meals, oral health and mental health support.

Parents and families also receive support in achieving their own goals. Our programs connect families with medical, dental, and mental health services. Parents get access to continued education and family well-being programs that help families achieve housing stability and financial security.

A few of our New Orleans area Head Start preschool students

How Does Head Start Benefit Children?

The first few years of a child’s life are critical to their well-being throughout their life. We understand that the physical and mental health of a child goes hand-in-hand with their educational development. Both childhood health and early learning are essential for your child.

Studies have shown that children who participate in preschool and receive early childhood services like the ones we provide through Head Start have many advantages throughout their lives. These children are more likely to graduate high school and go on to college.

Children who attend preschool are also less likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors later in life, such as substance abuse, teen pregnancy or committing violent crimes.

How Does Head Start Help Parents?

In addition to preschool and developmental services for your child, families who qualify for Head Start also get access to services that help parents.

For example, while her son Melvin attended one of our New Orleans area Head Start locations, we assisted mom Donnalee Clarence with obtaining housing and employment after living in a homeless shelter for several months. Ms. Clarence also enrolled in our English as a Second Language (ESL) and Citizenship classes, putting her on the path to becoming an American citizen.

Head Start parents can receive guidance in managing their finances, and many parents have also received assistance obtaining their GED or attending technical schools.

How Can I Enroll My Child?

Does your family qualify for our Head Start or Early Head Start programs? Enrollment for the 2017-2018 school year will begin in December 2016.

Our enrollment process is now done entirely online: click here to start the OneApp Enrollment Process.

If you know a parent who qualifies but does not have access to the internet, you may refer them to any of our Head Start sites in New Orleans to get assistance from our Family Resource Workers. Additionally, EnrollNOLA provides assistance with the OneApp process.

Click here to learn more about Head Start and view all of our locations.