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Welcome to the Parent Corner

This is a one-stop shop for Early Head Start & Head Start-enrolled families. Here, you’ll find up-to-date information about your child's early learning center, upcoming events and other resources to stay connected and in the know.

Click an option below to get started!

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  • Step Forward oversees the Early Head Start and Head Start programs. Tell us more about the importance of early childhood learning.
    Step Forward helps ensure every child has the opportunity to begin an education right, is prepared to enter kindergarten and develops a love of learning from the start. We offer Head Start, along with Early Head Start and Home Base Head Start to give families with children younger than 5 options for early childhood education. Step Forward’s Head Start programs are free to income-eligible families. Head Start focuses holistically on children: we integrate nutrition and health and dental screenings into their preschool experience. Step Forward also serves the entire Head Start family, providing the support and structure needed to start each child’s early life off right. Low-income families often have needs beyond their children’s education, so each family is matched with a social worker who conducts a needs assessment, helps them access other necessary programs and services, and serves as an on-going resource. Parents are involved and have a voice in designing the services to meet their needs. We have 10 Head Start Centers located throughout Cuyahoga County.
  • So the key to a bright future is education, and getting an early start. There are still hundreds of thousands of people in our community who may have received an education, but for one reason or another have fallen on hard times. How does Step Forward reach out and help this individual?"
    We believe every individual has the potential to succeed. We have three Neighborhood Opportunity Centers where we meet with individuals and families, learn what challenges they face and recommend support services if necessary, then a personal development plan of action and/or a professional development plan. We have life coaches and family development and job placement specialists on staff. Our Central Neighborhood Center located at 1801 Superior Ave., Suite 400, has three classrooms where we teach life skills and job readiness workshops.
  • What does Step Forward do?
    The nonprofit Step Forward has served residents of Greater Cleveland for 55 years. It formed in 1964 in response to Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. In the past half a century, we have helped hundreds of thousands of Greater Cleveland residents. We understand how hard it can be to make ends meet and how difficult it is to ask for help or know where to start. Step Forward counselors, coaches and teachers work with each individual or family to sort through the chaos and connect them with help to restore hope in the future. We do this by addressing four key areas: Step Forward is one of the State’s leading providers of Head Start, the preschool program that offers a holistic approach to learning for children and their families. Assisting people with job placement and earning a living wage or higher; Step Forward career planning and job training opportunities enable people to learn or improve skills, earn certification or improve readiness to pursue and win better job opportunities. Encouraging and teaching personal development; Our Neighborhood Opportunity Centers help low-income individuals and families access resources and support to address immediate needs and build long-term skills and opportunities to transform their lives. Step Forward helps ensure Cuyahoga County residents are warm in the winter and cool in the summer through energy assistance programs that help low-income individuals and families with their home energy bills during crisis and non-emergency situations.
  • Step Forward used to be called The Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland. Why did you change the name?
    For decades, we quietly, steadfastly opened our doors to help low-income individuals and families in Cuyahoga County take steps toward brighter futures. Throughout our 55-year history, we continuously evolved to meet people’s changing needs as the barriers and challenges of poverty changed. Our new name, Step Forward, reflects the next step forward for the organization to continue to be a vital resource to Cuyahoga County and the low-income residents who call it home. By stepping forward, we can help transform more lives and further strengthen our communities. We are stepping forward, but we are not walking away from the legacy of our organization. In fact, throughout our history we have shown that we must continuously takes steps to help us better serve low-income individuals and families in our community. To learn more about the name change from our President and CEO, Dr. Jacklyn Chisholm, please click here.
  • Are you still enrolling children in Head Start for this school year?  How can families sign up?
    Head Start preschool begins each Fall just like other schools, but we are always accepting new students. Call (216) 589-9922 or click here to start the enrollment process today.
  • What are the eligibility requirements for your programs and services?
    All customers must be Cuyahoga County residents. The majority of Step Forward’s programs also have income requirements in order to qualify. Those requirements differ based on the specific program. To find out if you qualify for our Early Head Start and/or Head Start programs, please call (216) 589-9922. To find out if you qualify for one of our personal or professional development courses, please call the Neighborhood Opportunity Center nearest you.
  • When do you take applications for your programs?
    Our programs take applications throughout the year. Head Start and Early Head Start are always enrolling children and families at their locations throughout Cuyahoga County. If a particular center is full, you can apply and be placed on a waiting list. The center will contact you as soon as a spot is available. The Personal Development/Family Development and Professional Development programs accept applications throughout the year at all of our locations. Energy Assistance operates during particular seasons. The HEAP Winter Crisis Program operates from November 1st – March 31st and applications are processed in persononly at the Energy Assistance Office. We also operate a Summer Cooling program. The Summer Cooling program operates from July 1st – August 31st.
  • Where are you located?
    Step Forward has Head Start centers and Neighborhood Opportunity Centers located throughout Cuyahoga County, plus one centrally-located HEAP Office. Please click here to find the location that is most convenient for you.
  • What is a Neighborhood Opportunity Center?
    Step Forward operates four Neighborhood Opportunity Centers located in Cuyahoga County. The centers allow Step Forward to meet people in need where they live and work. NOCs are accessible and convenient locations designed to reduce or eliminate the need for transportation into Downtown Cleveland. Staff who work at Step Forward's NOCs assist clients by connecting them to early childhood education, the Home Energy Assistance Program, emergency assistance such as food, clothing, and rent and internet payments, personal development including counseling, anger management and Baby and Mommy Support, and professional development like workshops, job training and employment connection.
  • What is the Men's Elevation Conference?
    The Men's Elevation Conference, presented by Step Forward, is a first-of-its-kind event in Cuyahoga County. Introduced in 2023, the conference served as an opportunity for men to come together and ignite a passion for growth through education, motivation, and celebration. If you are interested in participating, presenting, or attending the next Men's Elevation Conference, please visit for more information.
  • Can I apply online or over the phone?
    You cannot APPLY over the phone. However, it is necessary to call or go online to schedule an appointment. Learn more here.
  • What information do I need to bring with me when I meet with a HEAP representative?
    Please read the PDF herefor a complete list of required documents.
  • How did your agency respond to the COVID-19 pandemic?
    The devastating impacts of COVID-19 meant the need for our programs and services increased dramatically. Like so many other nonprofits and businesses in our community, we rose to the challenge. We made our individual and family programs available online, we closed our Head Start Centers, but continued to engage with our children and families with virtual meetings and provided necessary resources and delivered baby items and daily lunches. We also updated our internal protocols to keep our locations safe and clean for our employees and the people we serve. In addition, Step Forward received funding through the CARES Act that allowed us to directly assist the people who needed it most. If you’ve been impacted by COVID-19, we may be able to help. Please click here to find out more. We know the impacts of COVID-19 will have far-reaching effects on our community. Whether you need assistance with immediate needs, or skills training to get a high-paying job, Step Forward is here to help.
  • A big issue in our community is unemployment and also, people who have low-paying jobs who want to find better paying work. How does Step Forward help people find the jobs they are looking for and so desperately need?"
    We know our community has good-paying, quality jobs available in new and expanding industries, such as healthcare, technology, hotel and hospitality, manufacturing and shipping. But we lack qualified workers. Step Forward helps people build the necessary skills and matches potential candidates with available jobs. We teach classes in computer skills, customer service, how to write a resume and how to interview for a job. We have dedicated staff ready to assist people with a professional development plan and then we track and encourage progress each step of the way. The end of the process is an appointment with a Job Specialist who works with the client to get them job interviews. Our team gets really excited when clients get called for interviews and get the job.
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