This video was produced in 2009. Since then, our Early Head Start enrollment has increased to 150. There may be other outdated statements but generally it captures the program accurately. When playing this video, you may turn HD on or off by rolling your mouse over the video picture after it has started playing. The on-off button is in the upper right corner.


The Orange County Head Start and Early Head Start program began in 1997 as an Early Head Start program. Originally, the program was funded to serve 100 children age birth to three and pregnant women in low-income households in Orange County, NC. In 2003, the Pre-K Head Start program was added with funding to serve 80 additional children and families in NorthernOrangeCounty

County is composed of two distinct geographic areas. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro area in the southeastern corner of the county is home to the University of North Carolina, and home to 20,000 students and a large population of well-paid and well educated persons who are connected with the university and the adjacent, Research Triangle Park. With more than half the county's population, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area has its own school system. The rest of the county is mainly rural with social, educational and economic conditions that are typical of other rural areas in the state. A second school system serves this part of Orange County.

The Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project, Inc. was a division of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School System (CHCCS) from 1969 until 1997. In 1984, the CHTOP, Inc. acquired funding to start the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Head Start program which remained with the CHCCS after CHTOP, Inc. became an independent, 501 (c)(3), non-profit organization in 1997.

Today, there are two Head Start programs serving Orange County:

  • The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Head Start Program of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School System and
  • The Orange County Head Start and Early Head Start program of the Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project, Inc.

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To qualify for enrollment in the Orange County Head Start and Early Head Start programs, families must meet the poverty guidelines that are established by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

At time of enrollment, families must provide documentation to demonstrate that they are living at or below these guidelines.

2019  Head Start Family Income Eligibility Guidelines (130% of the Federal guidelines for poverty):

Family Size: Yearly family Income
Yearly family Income
1 12,490 16,237
2 16,910 21,983
3 21,330 27,729
4 25,750 33,475
5 30,170 39,221
6 34,590 44,967
7 39,010 50,713
8 43,430 56,459
For each additional family member  Add: $4,420


Age and Residence:

Pregnant women and families with children under age three who are living in Orange County are eligible to apply for the Early Head Start program. Families with children age 3 and 4 and who reside in that portion of Orange County served by the Orange County Schools are eligible to apply for the Pre-K Head Start program. Those otherwise qualified families living in the portion of Orange County served by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are eligible to apply for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Pre-K Head Start program.

Enrollment Applications:

Click on the table below for Head Start enrollment applications (in English or Spanish) that you can print, fill out and mail along with additional required documents to: 
Orange Co. Head Start and Early Head Start
800 Eastowne Drive, Suite 105
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

English: Spanish:
Head Start and Early Head Start Head Start and Early Head Start

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All Head Start families receive an array of individualized services based on each family's situation: their strengths, needs, goals, and aspirations. Families who qualify for center-based services receive high quality child care/education at low or no cost. Families who qualify for the home-based option are offered parent-child playgroups and weekly home visits focused on parent education and child development. All home-based and playgroup services are offered in Spanish and at no cost to enrolled families

When a family enrolls in Head Start, they are given a thorough assessment and then they have an opportunity to develop their own individualized plan for their family based on their circumstances and their goals and objectives. Head Start staff then helps the family achieve these goals.

Head Start Services include:

  • High Quality Child Care
  • Home-based option
  • Health, medical and nutrition services for child and family
  • Mental health and substance abuse services
  • Child dental services
  • Literacy services, including ESL
  • Involvement of parents in program governance
  • Services to enhance self-sufficiency
  • Services for children with disabilities


In order to provide this array of services with limited funding, a fundamental philosophy of collaboration is the foundation for program operations. Program staff works with many area organizations to assure that Head Start families are provided the resources they need to make a real difference in their lives. Collaborators include:

  • Orange County Partnership for Children
  • Smart Start
  • NC PreK
  • Two nationally accredited child care centers
  • Area Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse agency
  • Orange County Health Department
  • Orange County Department of Social Services
  • Orange County Literacy Council
  • UNC Hospitals

A special collaborative relationship has been developed with the Orange County Schools which is providing classroom space at three of their elementary schools. A goal for the OC Schools and the Head Start program is to expand into the other elementary schools in Orange County so that each of their schools will have a Pre-K classroom for children who will be enrolling in that school the following year.

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Parent Involvement

In Head Start, parents are regarded as their child's primary teacher. Parents are involved in all aspect of the program from volunteering in the classrooms to participating on the Head Start main decision-making board, the Head Start Policy Council.

Program Governance

The Head Start Policy Council has primary responsibility for operating the Head Start program in partnership with the CHTOP, Inc. Board of Directors. The Policy Council is composed mainly (80%) of current Head Start parents. Other members are community representatives. No Head Start staff member is a voting member of the Council. One Policy Council member is also a member of the CHTOP, Inc. Board of Directors.


To apply for enrollment or to receive additional information, contact:
Terry David, Director
800 Eastowne Dr. Suite 105
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
(919) 490-5577 Ext. 247




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What's New:

"Head Start works. It's been proven," letter from 275 reserachers to the US Congress: click here.

Video: Karen/Burmese Playgroup

2019 Annual Report

For more information contact
Terry David, Director



Main Office
800 Eastowne Dr. Suite 105,
Chapel Hill, NC 27514


Fairview Child and Family Center
125 Lawndale Ave.
Hillsborough, NC 27278
FAX: 919-643-2009

Homestead Center
600 Homestead Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Pre-K Partners:

Pathways Elementary School

Central Elementary School

Efland-Cheeks Elementary School

Infant-Toddler Partner:

Chapel Hill Day Care Center

Spanish For Fun