California Head Start Application Information

California Head Start program advocates for early childhood education by providing school readiness for children ranging from new born to five year olds mainly from low-income families. Parents and guardians play a big role in the program both in their capacity as primary educators and as participants in administering the programs locally. Pre-literacy and literacy experiences in a multi-cultural setting are catered for in the program.

Other social services such as childcare assistance are also offered to parents. These services are strictly extended to both Americans and non-American families living in the US legally and whose financial status is classified as low income, unemployed or about to lose their jobs.

Overall objective of this program is to develop children's daily effectiveness in dealing with their immediate environment and future responsibilities both in school and in future life. In line with the Head Start Performance Standards, California Head Start program will now and forever work towards ensuring that each child:

  • Develops a healthy relationship with adults and peers that is both positive and nurturing
  • Is instilled with sense of security and trust
  • Identifies and solve problems
  • Freely expresses feelings and thoughts
  • Respects other people's rights and feelings
  • Thinks critically
  • Boosts self-confidence
  • Uses imagination and creativity
  • Develops numeracy, literacy, reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making skills that form the foundation for school readiness.

Application Process

The following website will direct you to the California Head Start office nearest to you:

Eligibility Requirements

You must meet the following requirements to be eligible for the Head Start Program

  • One must be an American citizen or a legal US resident living in the state of California. Proof of US citizenship status with documentation such as Social Security number, birth certificate or alien card and current residential address is part of the application process.
  • Since the program caters to children under the age of six, proof of required school immunizations is necessary unless vaccinations are found to be medically harmful or against religious beliefs of the family.
  • Must be a parent or a responsible guardian of a young child who is too young to be admitted in any public school.
  • Have a household income below the following amounts before taxes:
Family Size Annual Income
1 $11,170
2 $15,130
3 $19,090
4 $23,050
5 $27,010
6 $30,970
7 $34,930
8 $38,890

For family units with more than 8 members add $3,960 for each additional member.

Young children from households receiving other public assistance such as SSI or TANF qualify for Early Head Start and Head Start services. Children in foster care are eligible for the Head Start program regardless of their family income. Children with special needs are allocated to 10% of enrollments.

Application Process

The following website will direct you to the California Head Start office nearest to you:

Contact Information

If you would like to speak with a State representative regarding the program and obtain a list of Head Start Providers located in California, kindly contact the California Head Start Office at: 415-728-5122

Or send an email to:

Head Start Application Instructions

California Head Start office is always open for enrollment. Choose one of the following ways to apply:

Apply Online

You can apply online here:

Mail in Application

Once you complete the application you can download, print and then mail to:

Michael Zito, Coordinator
Head Start State Collaboration Office
California Department of Education
1430 N Street, Suite 3410
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-323-9727

Join Head Start in Person

The following website will direct you to the California Head Start office nearest to you:

Use this link to find a local Head Start Program: