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American Indian Head Start Program

American Indian Head Start supports a rich, diverse and unique Indian language, heritage and legacy. Programs are encouraged to integrate language and culture into their curriculum and program goals. There are more than 84 different Indian languages spoken in Head Start.

The Office of Head Start announced on Sept. 1, 2016 that its latest final rule revision makes a number of changes to American Indian and Alaskan Native programs. These were made based on public comments during the rulemaking process, the “unique and important sovereign relations with tribal governments,” and through ongoing tribal consultations. OHS added a new provision that for the first time makes it explicit that programs serving American Indian and Alaska Native children may integrate efforts to preserve, revitalize, restore, or maintain tribal language into their education services. The feds also clarified that, due to tribal sovereignty, American Indian and Alaska Native programs only need to consider whether or not they will participate in early childhood systems and activities in the state in which they operate.

According to data as of May 1997, the American Indian Head Start Programs network has 131 funded grantees. These grantees are located in 25 states and represent the following tribes, villages and towns: 112 federally recognized Tribes who directly operate programs; 3 Inter-Tribal consortia representing 26 reservations, 12 colonies and 14 rancherias; 8 Native Alaskan Regional Corporations serving 35 villages and cities.

Some 83 percent of Indian Head Start programs are center-based services, and 17 percent feature both center-based and home-based options. The Indian network has 487 centers and 919 classrooms.


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