Family Foundations Early Head Start

A collage of photos featuring children and parents

In 1995, the Office of Child Development became one of the initial 17 sites across the country to operate Early Head Start programs. For more than two decades, the Office of Child Development has grown its Family Foundations Early Head Start program to serve more than 300 low-income familes expecting a new child or families with children under 3 years old. The program personalizes infant and toddler care by bringing visitors into families' homes almost every week.


The University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development‘s Early Head Start Program‘s primary purpose is to provide support to enhance positive developmental outcomes for children. Our focus is to provide a vehicle through which every young child with the support of their family and community will obtain optimal development. We serve and partner with infants/toddlers, their parents, extended family members and their community to self-assess, identify goals, develop and implement action plans to enhance children‘s development.

Program Goals

  • Children’s physical health, social, emotional, cognition and motor development will be enhanced in order to improve their readiness for school.
  • Parents will be supported and engaged in their role as caregiver, teacher and provider so that parent/child relationships and families will develop to their fullest potential.
  • Existing community resources will be enhanced for the benefit of children and families.
  • The highest quality services will be provided through caring and well trained staff.
  • Management and fiscal oversight for all EHS programs will ensure quality service delivery to EHS children and families.

Interested in learning more? You can find information about different Family Foundations Early Head Start services here.

How Family Foundations Early Head Start Makes a Difference in Family Life
From the 2016-2017 Annual Report 

When a friend told Gloria Morris about Family Foundations Early Head Start, she thought it was going to be a family therapy program. She had given birth to three children already, so having some help as she prepared for a fourth seemed like a good idea. Little did she know, this was a different kind of program.

Upon enrollment, Gloria found herself eight months pregnant, caring for a 2-year-old plus three school-aged children. She felt uncertain about the future. She was initially shy, anticipating that this program, like so many others, may ask a lot of questions and judge her answers. Quickly, though, her home visitor began to show her the how the program worked. What Gloria found far exceeded her expectations. Home visitors led fun activities like baby yoga and took pictures to document it. They cooed at her baby boy and traced the hands of her toddler. At site visits, they helped her children play with other children and families, and on occasion, participated in group outings. Gloria began to feel at ease and become close with other families and staff members.

Family photo with mother and five children

Gloria heard from her home visitor between weekly visits to see how her family was doing. Somtimes, those calls were a chance for her to talk about something that happened in her day. It helped her calm down and feel connected.  Through these personalized interactions, she grew her support system. Now, Gloria calls Family Foundations her second family and talks about how she "grew up" there. 

Today, Gloria is an active member of Policy Council and Vice President of her site's Parent Committee. She participates consistently and has come to think of herself as the group mom. Her willingness to help others has created trusting relationships and encouraged leadership skills that she feels will last beyond her time in the program. "Everyone has their flaws," Gloria says as she thinks back to her early day in the program. She recognizes the value of a trusted helper, whether it is a fellow program participant, home visitor, or program administrator. No matter who she encountered, they were willing to help.

The weekly home visit and the experiences that come with it have impacted Gloria positively. She wants other moms just like herself to take advantage of what Family Foundations Early Head Start offers. Gloria is proud to be part of a program that supports the choices she has made for herself and her family. 

With almost a year left in the program, Gloria is now preparing to transition from the program. But until her time ends, she will spread the word about the program, hoping that families just like hers can come to know Family Foundations Early Head Start.