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Interactions between human services programs and the opioid crisis: Early childhood care

Home visiting and center-based early childhood care and education programs provide services to at-risk expectant parents and families with young children. Programs provide information, support, and training about child health, development, and care.

Increasingly, early childhood care providers are seeing the effects of opioid use disorder and are thus in a good position to support such families. They can help by connecting families to services for substance misuse, including resources that might be able to reduce the risk that child welfare services will remove children from the home. The presentation summarized here focused primarily on the Head Start program, which includes both home visits and center-based care.


  • Early childhood care providers are on the front lines of the opioid crisis.
  • About half of Head Start programs reported they had strategies related to opioid misuse in place.
  • Promising strategies include: providing staff with awareness and sensitivity training; strengthening connections between early childhood care providers and hospitals, child welfare agencies, and treatment facilities; and providing referrals to mental health services.


Child Development & Well-Being, Children, Early Childhood Care & Education, Education & Training, Health, Mental Health & Substance Abuse