Head Start

History – Head Start

Head Start is a federally-funded program that has proven successful and effective for children and families. It provides free, comprehensive child development and educational programs, as well as support services for children from ages three to five and their families. The program includes a developmentally-appropriate curriculum that reflects the varied ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds of the children and families it serves. Currently, the San Mateo Head Start program serves close to 800 children in centers, Family child care and home-based programs.

Head Start was started in 1965 during President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” era as a way to address the need for health and education services for children from low-income families. Over the years, Head Start has provided educational, social, medical, dental, nutrition, mental health services, and parent involvement activities to millions of children nationwide, and at least 10% of its enrollment is available for children with special needs or disabilities.


Head Start Experience


IHSD’s Head Start programs offer children a developmentally appropriate curriculum that emphasizes language and cognitive development, social skills, and creativity, while offering their parents literacy and support services to enhance their productivity and self-sufficiency.

Head Start teachers use materials that are designed to match the age and development of each child and are sensitive to the ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds of the children. These materials encourage active learning through independent exploration and innovation. Children participate in open-ended activities that reflect their specific needs and interests within a flexible, yet structured framework. We offer children many opportunities to engage with one another, learn about decision making, and develop problem-solving skills. The daily schedule includes a balance of large group, small group, and individual play time, as well as outdoor activities, mealtimes, and personal hygiene.

Head Start Program Options & Locations
There are three options in the program for families enrolled in Head Start: (for children 3-5 years old)

  • The Center-based programs in Daly City, East Palo Alto, Half Moon Bay, Menlo Park, Redwood City, South San Francisco and San Mateo
  • The Home-based program, a home-visiting service based out of Redwood City and South San Francisco.