• National

    In 1964, the federal government asked a panel of child development experts to draw up a program to help communities overcome the risk of economically disadvantaged preschool children. The findings of that panel report became the blueprint for Project Head Start. 

    Project Head Start, launched as an eight-week summer program by the Office of Economic Opportunity 1965, was designed to help break the cycle of poverty by providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs.

    In 1969, Head Start was transferred from the Office of Economic Opportunity to the Office of Child Development in the U. S. Department of Health Education and Welfare, as has now become a program within the Administration of Children, Youth and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services. A well-established, though still innovative program, Head Start has had a strong impact on communities and early childhood programs across the country.



    Delaware County has been a part of the national effort since the beginning. Head Start first opened its doors in Chester and served approximately 60 children and families. Head Start then expanded into Sharon Hill and Darby serving 146 children and families.
    Delaware County Intermediate Unit became the grantee as of 1999. 

    DCIU Head Start works to ensure all children and families grow and develop according to their abilities. over 1,000 children and families are served through Federal and State Grants in 5 locations from Aston to Sharon Hill, including 3 Early Childhood Learning Centers. The Early Childhood Learning Centers are truly an inclusive setting where there are collaborations between Head Start, Early Intervention, District Pre-K Classrooms, ESL Program, and The Family Centers.

    In July of 2015 DCIU was awarded an Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships Grant to provide early child care to families 0 to 3 years.

    The following grants have been awarded to DCIU Head Start:  The HeadsUp! Reading Network, Boeing, The Gallagher Family Foundation, Fatherhood Initiative, Settlement Music School, Volunteers Award from PNC's Grow Up Great Program, The DCIU Education Grant, the DCIU Education Foundation Mini Grant, Young Audiences of Eastern Pennsylvania Arts Education, the Head Start Body Start Playground Award, I am Moving, I am Learning Initiative, Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP), Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts Classrooms, and the Strengthening Partnerships and Resources in Communities (SPARC) Literacy Program Award. 

    Various community partnerships to benefit children, families and staff have been developed, such as: Penn State University, Delaware County Library Systems, COSA Foster Grandparent Program, Delaware County and Chester Housing Authorities as well as with local Daycare providers.


    • Delaware County Intermediate Unit became grantee in 1999
    • Currently 5 centers throughout Delaware County
    • Funded enrollment of over 1,000 children and families  
    • 100% classrooms equipped with computers
    • Child Outcomes were developed in 2001. 
    • Male Engagement Program Focus
    • Developed partnerships with 3 child care agencies for full-day, full-year services to families
    • Have Inclusive classrooms
    • In 2006, began offering English as a Second Language (ESL) Support
    • 2015 implemented the Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships Program