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Early Head Start

Early Head Start is a federally funded program that offers comprehensive child development and support services to families with infants and toddlers and pregnant women at no cost to those who qualify.

Early Head Start programs support parents as their child’s first and most important teachers. Our programs assist families in meeting their personal goals and achieving self-sufficiency across various domains, such as housing stability, continued education, and financial security.

Our program offers:

Prenatal Services

  • Weekly 90-minute home visits, support a healthy pregnancy and positive childbirth outcomes.
  • Support and assistance in finding and attending prenatal care.
  • Prenatal curriculum focusing on fetal development, mother’s health and nutrition, birth plan, and supportive postpartum care for the parents and child.
  • Father/Partner involvement.

Home-Based Services

  • Weekly 90-minute visits, in your home.
  • Child-focused visits promote the parents’ ability to support their child’s development.
  • Family support services and resources.
  • Parent involvement in program decision making.
  • Monthly group socialization activities for the parent and child.

Center-Based Services

The Early Head Start Center-based option, locally known as SafeStart, is run in collaboration with Lehigh County Children and Youth Services.  SafeStart is a therapeutic model for drug-impacted infants, toddlers, and their families.  To qualify for this program, children and families must meet income guidelines, have an open case with Lehigh County Children and Youth Services, and have drug impact.

Services include:

  • Classroom services are provided five days a week, six hours a day.
  • Breakfast, lunch, and snacks provided, including formula.
  • Diapers and wipes are included.
  • Therapeutic Teachers provide individualized care to support the child’s overall development.
  • Family support services and resources.
  • Parent involvement in program decision making.
  • Twice a month parent support meeting.
You are your child’s first and most important teacher.

To qualify for our program at no cost to families:

  • Mother must be pregnant or have a child birth to age 2;
  • Priority is given for families whose income is at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level
  • Family must reside in Allentown, Bethlehem or Easton.

Early Head Start-center based:

For this Early Head Start program, children must be referred by the Children and Youth departments of Lehigh and Northampton counties. The center-based setting, known as SafeStart, is the region’s only therapeutic classroom program for abused infants and toddlers. Two locations, serving a total of 71 children, provide early intervention for babies and toddlers impacted by drugs and/or alcohol, to help them overcome health problems, developmental delays and emotional trauma.

The program strengthens families to stop the cycle of abuse because research shows that 72 percent of abusive families were involved in the child welfare system when they were children. Along with a special partnership with Lehigh Valley Health Network, SafeStart is supported by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Head Start, Children and Youth departments of Lehigh and private grants and donations.