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Independent. Reader-Supported

A Head Start on early care

  • day 20care
    Photo: Shaggy Paul/ Flickr Creative Commons




President Obama’s national push for early care has propelled a resurgence of attention to preparing young children for school. 

In recent work with families with young children in West Philadelphia, I’ve heard parents remark candidly about early care. Head Start, a national initiative that places 3-, 4-, and 5- year olds into centers for early childhood, is often a good option when seeking out-of- home care for young children. 

Parents who are interested start planning early. Philly’s Head Start program began registration for next year this week, with parents lining up Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for spaces in centers. With over 100 locations in and around the Philadelphia area, Head Start programs offer services dedicated to preparing young children for school. Such benefits include:

  • Meals, often including breakfast and lunch, and information about preparing nutritious meals and snacks at home;

  • Child- centered activities that enhance school readiness and developmental advance;

  • Free medical and dental care; and

  • Safe, convenient places to play and learn.

Centers vary widely in size and span all areas of the city. Parents can begin their search at the School District’s Office of Early Childhood Education for information on Head Start and other preschool programs offered in the city. They can also go there to find monthly newsletters, forms for enrollment, and even a virtual tour of a local program!

Parents who missed the July 17 registration deadline should contact the office at (215) 400-4270.

Did you attend a Head Start registration?  Are your children enrolled in an early care program in Philadelphia? Tell us more here, or you can email me at

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