Eligibility Criteria - SMILE Community Action Agency
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Eligibility Criteria

Enrollment into SMILE’s Early Childhood Development Programs, including Head Start and Early Head Start, is based upon age, income, disability and extenuating circumstances.

Age Eligibility: Head Start — Ages 3-4

Children considered for enrollment must be at least three years old by September 30, the date used to determine eligibility for public schools in the community.

Preference may be given to families who have two age-eligible children (ages three and four) providing all other eligibility requirements have been met.

Children whose date of birth falls after September 30 of the program year will become age-eligible on their third birthday, and may be allowed to participate in the Head Start program providing all other guidelines are met.

Once children are enrolled, they are allowed to remain in Head Start until kindergarten. However, the program may choose not to enroll a child a second year if there are compelling reasons such as a change in child’s family income, or another child with a greater need for Head Start services.

Age Eligibility: Early Head Start — Ages 0-3

Participants for Early Head Start include children, ages 0-3, which includes children at birth, as well as pregnant mothers. Children who become three years old by September 30 are not eligible for Early Head Start.

Once children are enrolled, they are allowed to remain in Early Head Start until eligible for Head Start.

However, if it is determined that a three-year-old (who is eligible for Head Start) needs to remain in the Early Head Start program, documentation of that need will be required.

Income Eligibility: Head Start and Early Head Start

Income requirements for both Head Start and Early Head Start are contingent upon family size and poverty guidelines, which are established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

At least 90 percent of enrollees must be from low-income families. Income eligibility also includes families receiving public assistance even if their income exceeds poverty guidelines.

Up to 10 percent enrollees may be selected by other factors, including:

  • – Child has a disability;
  • – Family experiencing a hardship or crisis;
  • – Single-parent household
  • – Family is a recipient of food stamps;
  • – Child is under the care of grandparents or guardian;
  • – Child is child or grandchild of Head Start/Early Head Start staff; and
  • – Family income is above the poverty guidelines.
Income Verification: Head Start and Early Head Start

The incomes and ages for Head Start and Early Head Start must be verified, and documentation is maintained, including copies of birth certificate, income tax form, W-2 form, check stub, notarized statement, etc.

Children with Disabilities

At least 10 percent of enrollment slots are reserved for disabled children

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