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Head Start

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Head Start is a national school readiness program that provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to children from eligible families in Strafford County, New Hampshire. The purpose of the Head Start program is to promote school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of health, educational, nutritional and other social services. The cornerstone of the program is parent and community involvement.

Eligibility: Head Start is mandated by the federal government to serve the neediest families first. We give priority to families that have incomes below the federal poverty guidelines; those receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families or Social Security Insurance; are homeless or foster children.

In order to complete an application, you must provide income verification for either the last 12 months or the last tax year. You must also have age verification for your child, and we accept any government issued verification. To learn more about Head Start and how to apply, contact 603-516-8144. Head Start provides high quality early childhood education, family advocacy and health services to eligible families in Strafford County, New Hampshire. We provide both center-based and home-based services and serve children from prenatal to 5 years of age.

We provide early childhood education and preschool for children 0-5. We also serve pregnant mothers. Pregnant mothers and children 0-3 are served by our home based program, while those with children ages 3-5 may choose either home-based preschool services or center-based preschool. All center-based classrooms are half day.

Head Start is a national program that is designed to help low income families get their children ready for school. Family eligibility is based on a variety of factors: income, active duty military status, child's disability, if the child is a foster child and homelessness. 

To learn more about Head Start and how to apply, contact 603-652-0990 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Employment release

Unemployment release

Zero income verification

Program Options:

Head Start offers two options for families wishing to enrol in Head Start: Center-Based or Home-Based. Children ages 3-5 residing in Strafford County may be eligible for either program based on program availability and eligibility guidelines.

Head Start Center Based (ages 3-5):

Unlike traditional childcare and other early education programs, Head Start focuses on preparing children for school and working to develop each child's social and learning skills through:                        

  • High-quality early education 5 days a week for 4 hours a day
  • Individualized curriculum
  • An inclusive program for children with disabilities or developmental delays
  • Nutritious breakfast and lunch
  • Health screenings (including dental, vision, and hearing)
  • Access to mental health and nutrition professionals
  • Family support through home visits and access to a Family Advocate
  • Parent involvement and volunteer opportunities
  • Educational field trips (transportation provided) and special events

Extended day services may be available through our child care program at your site. Private payment is accepted or parents may apply for a child care scholarship through the NH Department of Health and Human Services. Additional information on rates and availability on child care can be obtained by calling 603-755-2883.

In Strafford County, center-based Head Start programs are located in: Dover, Farmington, Milton, Rochester, and Somersworth. Please note: Somersworth has morning and afternoon sessions chosen by lottery.

Head Start Home Based (ages 3-5):

For families wishing to receive Head Start services in their own home, qualified Home Visitors may provide services for children residing in: Barrington, Dover, Farmington, Milton, Rochester, and Somersworth. During the home visit, the parent is the primary teacher for their child.

What does the Home Visitor do?:

  • Brings ideas for activities for you and your child.
  • Shows you how to use things in your home to teach your child.
  • Plans and demonstrates activities for you.
  • Assists you in finding what community resources are available for such things as nutrition, mental health, family planning, and special education services.
  • Home Visitors visit their families each week for 90 minutes over the course of the Head Start school year (determined annually).

Parents and their child also attend one of our Head Start center locations for a classroom socialization experience on a regular basis. This is a great way to introduce children to a classroom setting. Parents meet other families from their town, participate in hands on workshops, share snacks, participate in learning experiences with their child and go on occasional field trips.

Head Start Locations & Resources

To apply for the program, contact your nearest Head Start Center or call 603-516-8144 or email headstart@co.strafford.nh.us

62A Whittier Street

120 Main Street

55 Industrial Drive

150 Wakefield Street

184 Maple Street Extension

Web Links:

New Hampshire Head Start 2012

Office of Head Start (under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) http://bit.ly/I7amYj

National Head Start Association http://www.nhsa.org/

National Association for the Education of Young Children http://www.naeyc.org/

Head Start Testimonial

“In one year, I witnessed my daughter change from a toddler-like dependent to a little girl with the tools and understanding needed for the challenges that readily await her,” said Darril, a father from Dover. “It brings great joy to see her rapidly progress due to her Head Start experience. Head Start not only prepared my daughter for kindergarten, but instilled a confidence in learning I wish was provided to myself at her age.”

“The opportunity to volunteer and participate in her education has not only given me a unique experience it has also allowed me to witness her continued intellectual an social growth, while also providing a reminder of best of what we all are,” he said.