Promoting school readiness of children birth to age five

All Head Start classrooms are licensed by the Iowa Department of Human Services and both Head Start and Early Head Start Programs follow rigorous performance standards. Children who attend Head Start enter kindergarten ready to learn. Parents have opportunities to build their community involvement with volunteering and Policy Council membership. Income guidelines do apply.


Early Head Start is a home visitation program that provides services to eligible pregnant women and children ages birth to 3 years old. The program conducts home visits in the family’s home and provides opportunities for group socialization. The primary focus is to help the parent(s) be their child’s first and most important teacher and assist to improve their parenting skills. Early Head Start Home Visitors will also provide guidance for children’s transition to Head Start or other preschool programs once they turn three years old.

Early Head Start services are provided in Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties.

Download an Early Head Start brochure below.

Home Visitors work with families and children on developmental and health areas such as large & fine motor, language, cognitive, nutrition, health and dental. Staff ensure that children are up to date on their well-baby checks and encourage the children to have dental exams after one year of age

Playgroup experiences are held twice per month at various locations. Families are invited to attend each socialization, share a meal and participate together in activities

Home Visitors can help transport children/families to medical, dental appointments if needed


The Head Start program is a full day, full week preschool experience for low-income and disabled children 3-5 years old. The Head Start approach addresses not only the educational needs of children, but also the health, nutrition, social, mental health and literacy needs as well. Children participate in activities that promote motor, language, social/emotional, cognitive skills, literacy, science and math. All classrooms provide an inclusive environment for children with disabilities. Nutritious breakfast, lunch and snack are provided daily through the CACFP program and Head Start partners with Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness to help children and families learn about healthy, local foods.

Download a Head Start brochure below.

15 classrooms located in the seven-county service area, including the communities of Cresco, Decorah, Guttenberg, Monona, New Hampton, Oelwein, Postville, Waukon, Waverly, and West Union

Before and after school care for parents who qualify

Program ensures children receive health, vision and dental screenings

PBIS (Positive Intervention Behavior & Supports) is used to ensure children are cared for in a safe, positive and nurturing environment

Transportation is available at some locations through local school districts or local public transit providers

Parents & Healthcare Providers- Download required forms here.


Agency Appreciations

“Thank you for your fabulous work with the Decorah community & surrounding areas. All of you truly embody the spirit of hope & change people’s lives to not only help themselves but to encourage & help those around them. At a time when our country needs love & compassion, you & your staff deserve a well-deserved BRAVO.” 

Rachel Buresh

KD Rae Jewelry


Embrace Iowa

“Embrace Iowa helped our family be getting us a stove. The stove we had was hazardous. When we would cook on it, it would stink the whole house up. Also, it leaked underneath the stove. That stove was so small that my two year old son could see inside the pan without standing on anything. Now, with our new stove we can cook without smelling anything or without cleaning up a leaky mess. Thanks so much for our new stove. We really appreciated it.”

Fayette County Resident



“Cheryl & Denise. Happy CACFP Week. You both are: Courageous & Calm as a Cucumber. Astounding & Accessible & Able. Cheerful & Capable. Fascinating & we are Fortunate to have you !! Positive & Peppy. Thanks for All you do!!”