Principles that Guide Mental Health Services in Head Start/Early Head Start

Principles that Guide Mental Health Services in Head Start/Early Head Start

Little girl and mom on bench

The Head Start/Early Head Start program philosophy rests on four basic principles:

  • A child can benefit most from a comprehensive, interdisciplinary program to foster development and remedy any developmental concerns.
  • Parents are the primary educators of their children and must be directly involved in the program.
  • The well-being of children is inextricably linked to the well-being of the entire family.
  • Partnerships with other agencies and organizations in the community are essential to meeting family needs. (California Head Start Association, 2009)

These principles that guide Head Start and Early Head Start programs have lasted over time adapting to include infants and toddlers, promote the primary role of families, recognize the essential role of early care and education providers, and encourage partnerships with community resources to support young children, families, and staff. These principles have also influenced the program’s approach to mental health services and supports for children, families, and staff, including mental health consultation services.

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This product was developed [in part] under grant number 1H79SM082070-01 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.