Early Head Start

New Locations Announcement: FSW is happy to announce that we are expanding our Head Start and Early Head Start programs to locations in Mount Vernon, Port Chester, New Rochelle, and more.  These locations were previously administered by WestCOP and are being transitioned by the Office of Head Start (OHS) to FSW effective September 1, 2021. Click here for details >


FSW’s Early Head Start program is a federally-funded program founded in 1996 to serve infants and toddlers under the age of 3, as well as pregnant women. The goal of Early Head Start is to provide child development and family support services to low-income pregnant women, infants, toddlers and their families.


Early Head Start programs promote infant and toddler physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development through safe and enriching caregiving. These early measures set young children up for the best possible start in life and prepare them for ongoing success in school and life.

Following the general Head Start model, FSW’s Early Head Start program supports parents in their role as the primary caregivers and teachers of their children. Early Head Start also assists families in meeting their own personal goals and achieving self-sufficiency in other areas of their lives such as housing stability, continued education, and financial security.

Toddlers and parents in the Early Head Start home-based program meet once a month for socialization time.

Home and Center-Based Programs

FSW’s Early Head Start program works with families both inside and outside the home to provide a rich variety of positive learning experiences in a secure and loving environment.

  • Early Head Start’s in-home program focuses on the mother’s health during pregnancy and the health of her newborn during the first 12 months of life.
  • When Early Head Start children reach their first birthdays, they join a center-based program, which continues to build each child’s cognitive and language skills, social and social and emotional development, and physical and mental health.

Early Head Start Prepares Young Children for Success

Research studies have shown that the time from birth through the first years of life is critical to healthy brain development in babies and toddlers.

For example, a national evaluation conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., and Columbia


University’s Center for Children and Families, in collaboration with the Early Head Start Research Consortium, found:

  • At the end of the program, 3-year-old Early Head Start children performed significantly better on a range of cognitive, language, and social and emotional development measures than a randomly assigned control group. Additionally, the parents of the 3-year-olds scored significantly higher than control group parents on many aspects of home environment, parenting behavior, and progress toward self-sufficiency.

  • Two years after the end of the program, prior to children entering kindergarten, those children who experienced EHS, followed by formal early childhood education experiences (such as Head Start and Universal Pre-Kindergarten) tended to have the best overall outcomes at the start of school.

  • By fifth grade, there was still some evidence showing the sustained impact of EHS on children’s social and emotional well-being, for example, on children’s social and emotional development, parent support for education and parent mental health among African-American families.
Early Head Start mothers gather for a socialization play group at the White Plains Library

How to Apply for Early Head Start

To apply for Early Head Start, a pregnant woman, parent or caregiver must:

  • Have proof of residence (such as a utility bill or phone bill)
  • Be pregnant and/or have a birth certificate for the child who is applying
  • Meet federal income eligibility requirements

Contact Information:

Early Childhood Administrative Offices
Family Services of Westchester
106 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
(914) 358-5776

Hope Shapiro Lilian, MS, LMSW, Family and Community Engagement Manager
(914) 358-5692

Danielle Jernigan, MS ED, Education Manager
(914) 358-5561

Maria Pilco, Early Head Start Coordinator
(914) 761-2731, Ext. 14

Carmen Guzman, Health Manager
(914) 997-0147, Ext. 18