Early Learning Programs

Youth In Need’s Early Head Start and Head Start program serves families who meet Federal income guidelines in St. Louis City, St. Charles City and County, and Lincoln, Warren, and Montgomery Counties in Missouri. Head Start is a program for children, ages 3- to 5-years-old. Early Head Start is for children, ages birth to 3-years-old, as well as prenatal services for expectant parents.

Youth In Need’s St. Louis City Head Start serves families with children, ages 3 to 5, and provides prenatal services to expectant parents until the child is 6-weeks-old. Head Start in St. Charles, Lincoln, Warren and Montgomery Counties serves families with children, ages birth to 5.

Both Head Start and Early Head Start offers comprehensive developmental services, including education, inclusion of children with disabilities, vision, hearing and developmental screenings, nutritious meals and snacks, health services, family involvement opportunities, parent education, identification of family needs, community resource information, volunteer and employment opportunities, and decision-making by parents about Youth In Need’s Head Start and Early Head Start program.

Both the Head Start and Early Head Start programs are offered in a Center-Based or Home-Based setting.

Center-Based Services

Center-based services involve the family and community in meeting the needs of young children and their working parents by providing educational services in a free full-day classroom setting. (Extended-day hours are available for a fee at some sites.) Parents are a major component of the program and are encouraged to participate in classroom activities. Parents also are offered two home visits and two parent education meetings each year. Staff facilitate a learning environment that enhances developmental skills for children. Learning experiences are offered to promote growth and development for all children in order to prepare them for Kindergarten.

Home-Based Services

Home-based services facilitate the involvement of family and community in meeting the needs of young children within the child’s primary learning environment: their home. Home Visitors provide one 90-minute home visit per week for each family, which prepares children for Kindergarten, and two group socializations per month to help acquaint children with a classroom environment. Visits help parents enhance parenting skills and assist them in using their home as the primary learning environment. Home Visitors will assist families with social service needs as well.

Eligibility, Enrollment and Cost

Because Head Start and Early Head Start serves families who meet Federal income guidelines, staff must be able to verify income through W-2 forms, check stubs, letters from employers, award letters and other documents. For those families who meet income guidelines, standard program hours are offered at no cost. Extended day options are available for a fee. A child is age-eligible for Head Start if he or she has reached a third birthday by August 1 of the current year. Age must be documented by a copy of the child’s birth certificate, hospital records or medical cards with birth date included.

Upon expressing interest in the program, a staff member will schedule a convenient time to complete an enrollment application. In order for an application to be complete, the family must provide age and income verification. (To determine eligibility, the income should be reflective of the last 12 months before application.) Staff will discuss the different program options with the parent to determine the option and location that best meets the family’s needs.After the application is complete, staff will document eligibility on the Income Eligibility Determination and determine the family’s priority for enrollment into the program on the Eligibility Priority Criteria (EPC) Form. The EPC is designed to give priority to children based on identified needs in the community assessment and various family needs. Once this has been completed and all requirements have been met, a child can be selected for enrollment into the program when an opening is available.


To learn more about Head Start or to enroll your child in the program, call 636-332-0265 (for St. Charles, Lincoln, Warren or Montgomery Counties) or 314-353-6906 (for St. Louis City or County) or e-mail the program Vice President.

Youth In Need does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status in employment or our provision of services.