* Update - Directors' Council will now be held virtually, June 23-25. More information here.*

Welcome to the Virginia Head Start Association 

What is Head Start?

Head Start is a national child development program for children from birth to age 5, which provides services to promote academic, social and emotional development for income-eligible families.

Created in 1965, Head Start is the most successful, longest-running, national school readiness program in the United States. Head Start is a child-centered, family focused, comprehensive and community-based program. Head Start provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, dental, mental health, social services and parent involvement opportunities to low-income children and their families. More than 21 million preschool aged children have benefited from Head Start.

2020 Virginia Fact Sheet

Our Mission

The Virginia Head Start Association dedicates itself to training and advocacy which enhances and fosters growth of individual members, member agencies, partners and others who impact the lives of children and families.

What's the latest?


United Way of Roanoke Valley with STEP and TAP Head Start have been working collaboratively with local school systems to develop a new way for families to apply for early care and education. The program, called Smart2Start, is a coordinated enrollment system that will improve efficiency in the placement of children into early care and education programs, thereby making full use of publicly-funded seats.
Smart2Start will help the most vulnerable of our young residents by streamlining recruitment, eligibility, and enrollment in early care and education. The unique system brings together public-school systems, Head Start programs, and private providers to place children in early care and educational settings. A single application for programs in six counties throughout the Roanoke Valley will account for the preferences and needs of each child’s family.
Smart2Start will serve as a single point of contact, ensuring all families have access to these early childhood resources. Although Smart2Start is especially beneficial to socially or economically disadvantaged families, all families can benefit from the implementation of this coordinated enrollment system.

See the video here

Playdate at the Capitol – February 17, 2020

Virginia Head Start Parent Ambassadors joined other ECE stakeholders in advocating for early childhood education at the State Capitol. They brought their children on a "playdate" with delegates, senators, and the First Lady of Virginia to thank them for their investments. Head Start Director Yesenia De La Cruz (TAP) also attended with families. This year the Governor and Virginia General Assembly have supported an additional $100 million to improve access to home visiting and expand public preschool to serve more 3 & 4 year-olds.

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 Celebrate Virginia CACFP Week

 CACFP provides for healthy meals and snacks for thousands of Virginia children every day! Join Virginia CACFP Week - as educators across the Commonwealth promote good nutrition for young children and celebrate the benefits of the CACFP.

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2020 Parent Ambassador trip to the General Assembly

The 2020 VAHSA Parent Ambassadors visited Richmond on January 22 to share their compelling stories with State Delegates and Senators about how Head Start has impacted their lives. They valued the opportunity to meet with State Legislators and shared powerful and inspirational examples of how families partner with Head Start to help prepare their children to be successful both in school, and in life.

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Conference News

Director's Council 

June 23-25, 2020
Now a Virtual Conference

Education Summit
August 13-14, 2020
Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel
425 Water Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704