The Ottawa-Carleton region’s first Headstart programs were establishedthree-children over 45 years ago. The original intent of these programs was to provide 2½ to 5 year old children from economically and socially disadvantaged environments with an enriched preschool learning experience.

Enriched programming is designed to encourage each child to strive to his or her full potential, to better prepare the child for entry into the educational system and to work with parents addressing family issues. Parents may make self-referrals or children may be referred by social service agencies.

While most programs are licensed to serve the preschool population, some programs have a toddler component or have been given a special clause in their licence to serve a designated number of children from the next youngest age group (18 months to 36 months, toddlers).

All Headstart programs have a purchase of service agreement with the City of Ottawa, with the number of subsidies varying from program to program.