Tribal Head Start

Tribal Head Start and Early Head Start are comprehensive programs for low-income children and families living on Native American lands. It offers early childhood classes, nutrition services, family support services, transportation, health services, mental health services, and disability services for Native children from birth to age five. Tribal Head Start and Early Head Start programs support Native American children’s mental, social, and emotion development.

The government’s Head Start website says, “Head Start launched 34 American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) Head Start programs in the summer of 1965. Today, there are around 44,000 children of AIAN heritage served, both in AIAN programs and in non-tribal programs. The Office of Head Start (OHS) honors the rich cultural heritage of our AIAN children, families, and communities. Based on the needs of local communities, Head Start programs offer traditional language and cultural practices to provide high-quality services to young children and their families. The targeted tools and resources below are available to assist in the planning, development, and organization of AIAN programs and other programs serving AIAN communities.”

Are my children eligible?

In most cases, eligibility is based on family income at or below the Federal poverty level. However, you may also be eligible if you find yourself in some other situations such as homelessness, children in foster care, or if you receive SSI or TANF.

Please keep in mind that all of this is subject to local eligibility requirements. So it’s vital that you contact the Head Start or Early Head Start nearest you to find out about the specific requirements in your area.

Why? Because government funding is limited. So there may not be enough spaces for all the children who are eligible. If it turns out that you local Tribal Head Start or Early Head Start programs are full when you apply, make sure you ask to be put on a waiting list.

How to apply

To apply for a Head Start or Early Head Start program, you must visit the Head Start office nearest to your home (not on this website). It will give you all the forms you need to fill out and answer any questions you may have. If you give them a call in advance, they will be able to tell you which documents you’ll need to provide when you apply.

To repeat, you must register with the Head Start program in your community.

How can I find my local Head Start office?


Visit the Head Start website which offers a Head Start Locator. to find a Head Start program near your home. Call the phone number listed to find out the next steps in the process. Or you can call 1-866-763-6481.