March 24, 2021

Head Start and Partners Launch ‘The Basics’ Pilot Program to Raise Awareness About Early Childhood Development

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services Head Start Program has launched a pilot of The Basics, a public health strategy that raises awareness about early childhood development. The initiative builds capacity throughout the community for engaging families around five science-based parenting and caregiving tenets that support social, emotional and cognitive development of young children.

The five tenets of the program are Maximize Love and Manage Stress; Count, Group and Compare; Talk, Sing and Point; Explore through Movement and Play; and Read and Discuss Stories.

The pilot program, funded with a one-time provision of $100,000 in Federal CARES Act funding, will focus on Head Start families in Germantown and Gaithersburg. The Basics advisory committee must secure funding for a fully implemented program.

“During this year of the pandemic, families are facing incredible stress and this effort will help strengthen parents as they build their children’s social, emotional and cognitive development, which are pivotal foundations for early learning and good health,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “We appreciate how all of the partners have embraced this effort.”

The Basics pilot program is a partnership that includes the County Department of Health and Human Services Head Start (Community Action Agency, the grantee), Early Childhood Services and School Health Services. The partnership also includes the Montgomery County Public Schools’ (MCPS) Division of CARES Act, Early Childhood & Title I and Montgomery Moving Forward, an initiative of Nonprofit Montgomery.  

The Basics pilot program aligns with the County’s Early Care and Education Initiative as part of its four-year action plan to expand child care options for infants, toddlers and preschoolers; provide greater access to more families; and support schools and community providers.

The County’s Department of Health and Human Services’ Community Action Agency has served as the County’s Head Start grantee since its inception. MCPS serves as the delegate agency for the County’s Head Start program, serving 648 children and their families with high-quality education and comprehensive services. The Community Action Board, along with the Head Start Parents Policy Council, is the governing body for the County’s Head Start program.

More information about the Basics program is available by contacting Head Start Manager Charlene Muhammad at