Durham Early Head Start

What is Early Head Start?

Durham Early Head Start (DEHS) is a federally-funded, free, and comprehensive child development and family support program for low-income expectant women and families with infants and toddlers age birth to 3. Families participate through two program models: intensive home visiting and full day high-quality center-based child care. Currently, DEHS serves 136 children through center-based care and 36 children through home visiting, for a total enrollment of 172.

All families receive high-quality, comprehensive services, including: education; health, dental, and nutritional aid; housing assistance and parent education; mental health screenings; and early intervention.

The Partnership collaborates with community partners to serve Durham’s most vulnerable children and families: the Center for Child & Family Health provides home visiting services; and local child care centers provide center-based care.

Center-Based Services: for families who demonstrate need for child care services

  • Children receive 6.5 to 10-hours, full-year child care in one of our partnering centers.
  • Early Head Start teachers and staff provide a nurturing, stimulating and individualized learning environment.
  • Family Service Coordinators meet individually with parents to provide information, resources and support.
  • Regular attendance is expected.
  • Transportation is not provided to child care centers (bus passes are available).

Home-Based Services: for families to use their home as the place for learning

  • Families receive one 90-minute home visit per week from a Home Visitor who is trained in the research-based Parents as Teachers curriculum.
  • Parents participate in learning activities designed to enhance their child’s learning and receive information and support on parenting issues, as well as resource and referral information.
  • Expecting families receive home visits at least once per month from a Home Visitor who is trained in the research-based Partners for a Healthy Baby curriculum.
  • Expecting families receive information and support on having a healthy pregnancy, as well as resource and referral information.
  • Families and expecting families have an opportunity to attend a Play Group with other children and families twice per month.
  • Home visits are available in Spanish and English.
  • Regular attendance is expected.

Who is eligible?

  • Families in Durham who are expecting or who have a child under the age of 3 (a child who will be 2 or younger as of August 31st).
  • Foster children, homeless children, and children from families receiving public assistance (TANF or SSI), regardless of income.
  • Children with documented disabilities may be eligible regardless of income.
  • Families who meet income eligibility as determined by Federal Poverty Guidelines (2022).

How can I apply?

Durham Early Head Start accepts applications for the upcoming program year from February 4 – May 30. Families not selected will be placed on the waiting list for that program year. Families must reapply yearly.

Enrollment Applications can be downloaded here and applications may be submitted at the Durham Early Head Start Office.


Applications must include:

  1. Completed and signed application
  2. Proof of income or school for all legal guardians in the home (Examples are: pay stubs for 1 month, most recent W-2 or 1040 Tax form, SSI or TANF documentation, letter from employer, letter from school, school schedule), or a notarized Statement of No Income.
  3. Proof of child’s age (not applicable for expecting families) – something official with your child’s birth date on it (birth certificate or Passport, Medicaid Card, etc.).
  4. Proof of Durham Residency – a lease or bill or ID that shows you live in Durham.
  5. Special Services Paperwork – if your child receives any special services, please provide documentation about that (sometimes called an IFSP).
  6. Family intake interview by Durham Early Head Start staff member.

Guidelines and Application for Early Head Start Sites

Are you interested in becoming an Early Head Start Site? Durham Early Head Start is accepting new applications from Five-Star Child care Centers that serve Infants and Toddlers until November 12, 2021. To fill out the Request for Proposal Click Here.


Please call or visit the Durham Early Head Start Office for more information.

EHScolorDurham Early Head Start
1201 S. Briggs Ave., Suite 100
Durham, NC 27707
Phone: (919) 403-6960 ext. 227
Fax: (866) 839-1642

Families with children age 3 and 4 and who reside in Durham are advised to contact Durham Head Start at (919) 688-5541.

Resources and Links