The CAPSLO Head Start and Early Head Start programs provides high quality, no-cost child care, early childhood education, and preschool services to low-income families in San Luis Obispo and Northern San Diego Counties.

The program serves families with children from the birth through age five, with some additional services for pregnant women.

CAPSLO has been providing Head Start programs continuously since 1966.

The program offers a blend of center-based preschool, family child care, and home-based options to meet the early childhood education and/or child care needs of low income families.

Head Start and Early Head Start are more than just  “day care” programs– these programs help children get ready to succeed in school and life by focusing on the child’s overall health and development, while helping parents increase their confidence through education and program involvement opportunities.

For more information about the Head Start and Early Head Start program offers to families, please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below and/or check out our Annual Report.

CAPSLO Early Head Start provides services for children ages 0-3 in the following areas:

  • San Luis Obispo County
  • San Diego County

CAPSLO Head Start provides services for children ages 3-5 in the following areas:

  • San Luis Obispo County



Five Cities

Los Osos


Paso Robles

San Luis Obispo

  • San Diego County 



Program Eligibility Requirements

Apply to Head Start/Early Head Start Programs

Call 1.888.315.6741

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I need to pack my child lunch or snacks?

No, you do not need to pack any food for your child! The program provides two meals and a snack for your child each day through participation in the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Meals are prepared fresh daily using locally sourced produce whenever possible. Daily menus are low in sugar, fat, sodium, and processed foods.

Meals are enjoyed in a family-style setting where staff providing age appropriate modeling for children in serving the food, trying a variety of items, and cleaning up at the end of the meal.

Special accommodations are made for children with disabilities, food allergies and special health diagnoses.

Additionally, children undergo periodic nutrition assessments, and efforts are made to educate staff and parents on healthy eating and an active lifestyle.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Please click here for more information on the USDA non-discrimination policies or to file a complaint of discrimination.

What is the difference between Head Start and Early Head Start?

Head Start is a comprehensive child development program that operates on the principle that the first five years of a child’s life are the most crucial in the learning process. Head Start realizes that parents are the first teachers of their children, and for that reason encourages the parents and families to be involved with the program. Originating in 1964, Head Start has proven to be a successful social program. Funded by the federal government, the program is designed to support low-income families and children with disabilities. Head Start focuses on early childhood health development, family and community partnerships and program governance. These areas include Education, Health, Nutrition, Mental Health, Social Services, Parent Involvement, and Disabilities. The areas are interconnected to provide quality services to all children and families in Head Start.


Early Head Start includes the time period from prenatal, right through the child’s birth to three years of age when growth and development is most rapid. Physical health, safety, a warm and loving environment and intellectual stimulation are the key elements in providing a supportive environment for an infant/toddler. This time period is also the most critical in families who are facing a lot of stress from lack of resources or family support, as well as those who are first time mothers and fathers. The physical and emotional demands of raising a baby can be very challenging and frustrating. This is the best time to accept an offer of support from other individuals, whether it is respite or guidance.   Early Head Start uses home base and  a combination of center base/home base models, to provide comprehensive child development and family support that is consistent with what most families of infants/toddlers need. The family’s culture and unique ways of relating to the child are respected and promoted. With Early Head Start’s partnerships with many health, mental health, and social service agencies, additional resources and support are coordinated to provide additional services. Early Head Start also provides transition services to enrolled children who are moving on to preschool whether in our Head Start Program or in another placement, to ensure continuity of care.

How can parents get involved in the program?

We believe that it is important that all families have opportunities to get involved with their child’s education from an early age. We want parents to feel comfortable being involved in the Head Start programs so that they can feel comfortable advocating for their child’s education and wellbeing in any setting!

Family engagement opportunities include:

  • Classroom volunteering
  • Bi-annual Parent/Staff Conferences
  • Field trip chaperoning and participation
  • Parent education workshops and seminars
  • Monthly Center Parent Committee meetings
  • Monthly Program Policy Council meetings
  • Program Liaison/Representative to Community Action Partnership Board of Directors
  • Annual Program Self?Assessment
  • Personnel Interviews for new employees
  • County Level Health Services Advisory Committees
  • Family Engagement groups and/or workshops for:
  • Males/Fathers utilizing the Amor de Padre – Hombres que Cuentan / Love a Father – Men that Count curriculum.
  • Females/Mothers utilizing the Abriendo Puertas / Opening Doors curriculum.

Ask the staff at any of the CAPSLO Head Start Centers how parents and caregivers can get involved!

All parent volunteer hours are logged and contribute the community match (In Kind Match) required by the Office of Head Start.

What else does the program offer?

CAPSLO Head Start is more than just a daycare or preschool program. By providing services that strengthen the entire family and address the developmental needs and health of the whole child, CAPSLO Head Start helps prepare children for success in school and in life.

In addition to quality early learning opportunities and high quality child care, children enrolled in Head Start will receive services that support their physical and emotional health. Parents are provided with the support needed to be a lifelong advocate for their children’s health and wellbeing.

Health Services

Head Start Health Services include:

  • Assisting families with finding their children a medical and dental “home” or primary care provider.
  • Assisting with common barriers to accessing health services, including: transportation, translation, and costs.
  • Assistance with staying up to date on immunizations, yearly physicals, dental screenings, TB tests, lead assessments, and nutrition assessments to ensure that children receive comprehensive, preventative health services.
  • Health and Nutrition Specialists to assist children and staff in teaching good hygiene,  healthy eating, and other behaviors and skills for lifelong health.

Mental Health Services

The CAPSLO Head Start Mental Health team is comprised of Behavior Specialists and a Mental Health Coordinators.

In addition, each county has on contract a licensed Mental Health professional that visits the centers on a regular basis and is available to meet with the parents for family counseling.

Disability Services

Head Start makes special efforts to ensure that children with special needs are able to participate in all aspects of the program in an inclusive classroom or family child care provider environment.

At least 10% of enrollment is reserved for children who have been diagnosed with a disability. A technical assistance team of coordinators and specialists in the areas of disabilities, health, mental health, nutrition and education work together to support staff and parents in serving children with special needs.

We support families in the referral process when additional services may be needed.

What is the Family Child Care (FCC) option?

The Early Head Start/State Child Development Program is a comprehensive child development program designed to serve low-income families through federal and state funding. The Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County, Inc., (CAPSLO) serves infants and children up to 47 months in San Luis Obispo & Kern County. Providers contracted with CAPSLO provide services in licensed childcare homes.

The Early Head Start/State Child Development Program operates on the principle that the first years of a child’s life are the most significant in the learning process. The program is designed to meet the emotional, health, nutritional, and psychological needs of the child and the family. The objective of the program is to provide comprehensive services, including education, disabilities, health, nutrition, mental health, parent engagement, and social services. CAPSLO representatives and Family Childcare providers work collaboratively to provide quality care and healthy environments for children.

1.      CAPSLO provides family child care services to families with children 0 up to 47 months eligible for the Early Head Start / State Child Development Program. 1302.23(a) The family child care program option delivers the full range of services, consistent with 1302.20(b). Education and child development services are primarily delivered by a family child care provider in their home.

2.      Early Head Start/State Child Development may provide services up to twelve (12) hours a day, five (5) days per week during the program operational period.

3.      Early Head Start/State Child Development contracts the services of licensed Providers in the target service areas.

4.      Early Head Start/State Child Development programs will offer professional development training opportunities for contracted providers.  The subject matter will cover the service areas of the Head Start Performance Standards and other subjects related to childcare and other trainings as needed based on individual needs; such as the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential trainings.

5.      Family Child Care Coordinators will conduct a visit to each provider every two weeks and have some form of contact every week. Visits will be both announced and unannounced.  A minimum of two (2) health & safety checks will be completed each program year.

What is the Home Base option?

The Home Base program supports parents in helping them provide learning opportunities that enhance their child’s growth and development. The Home Base program assist parents in using the home as the child’s primary learning environment.

1.       CAPSLO provides home base services to pregnant women and families with infants, toddlers and preschoolers eligible for the Early Head Start/Head Start Programs.

2.       CAPSLO provides respectful and developmentally enriched services that promote the physical, cognitive, social and emotional growth of infants and toddlers and prepare them for future growth and development. Additionally, Early Head Start/Head Start supports and equips parents/ guardians in their roles as primary caregivers and educators of their children and families in meeting personal goals and achieving self-sufficiency across a wide variety of domains.

3.       CAPSLO mobilizes communities to improve the resources and environment necessary to ensure a comprehensive, integrated array of services and support for families and to foster the system change necessary to summon forth the guiding vision of this initiative. Moreover, CAPSLO ensures the provision of high quality services to families with infants, toddlers and preschoolers through the development of highly trained, caring and adequately compensated program staff.

4.       Early Head Start will provide weekly home visits for a minimum of 46 visits per Enrollment Cycle year and Head Start will provide weekly home visits for a minimum of 32 visits per program year. Each program’s visits will last approximately 90 minutes.

5.       Early Head Start Home Base Teachers will provide at a minimum of 22 groups Socializations per program year and Head Start Home Base Teachers will provide at a minimum of 16 groups Socializations per program year. Socialization topics will be intentional as the planning process is a joint effort between Home Base Teacher and parent. The topics will be meaningful for both parents and children, all the while focusing on peer/group interactions. Nutritious snacks will be provided at each Socialization.

6.       CAPSLO’s Early Head Start/Head Start Home Base Teachers will maintain an average caseload of 10 to 12 families each with a maximum of 12 families.

What will my child learn?

CAPSLO has three educational goals for our infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children enrolled in Head Start, Early Head Start, and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs:

  1. Equip children with school readiness skills through quality early learning experiences.
  2. Build the confidence and self-esteem necessary for children to succeed in their present environment.
  3. To empower children for future challenges.

Staff, parents, and community partners work in together to achieve these goals and assist children of all ages and abilities in meeting their potential.

The curricula used are child-centered and provides for all areas of development.  Activities are individualized based on each child’s needs and interests, and promote development in the areas of Language, Literacy, Mathematics, Social/Emotional Development, Science, Creative Arts, Approaches to Learning, and Physical Health and Well Being.

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