8,025 children and 7,043 families served since 7/1/12!




To offer a top-quality pre-school education for more than 500 of the highest risk children in Shelby County annually, plus support for their families, completely free of charge.


A child’s development begins in the earliest moments of life, with social and cognitive skills that affect their ability to enter school and succeed. Yet children from many low-income families are often not afforded the same opportunities to develop these skills as other children. Porter-Leath’s Head Start programs — Head Start for preschool children ages 3 to 5 and Early Head Start for children from birth to preschool age — ensure these children develop to the best of their ability and receive all of the building blocks necessary to be successful in school. Porter-Leath Head Start offers a comprehensive combination of quality home-based family services and on-site educational programs completely free of charge.

Services Provided


  • Individualized early childhood development resources
  • Health and developmental screenings, including speech, hearing, vision and lead exposure
  • Medical, dental and mental health services
  • Parental involvement and education, including nutritional counseling
  • Extended onsite care for working parents
  • In-home family support and counseling
  • Disability services for children that are mild, moderate or severe.

  • Benefits


  • Enhanced school readiness for low-income children
  • Guaranteed quality of services through a unique management structure, monitoring, training and content development
  • Full range of highly qualified and trained staff comprised of teachers, assistants, family service and health workers and nutritionists

  • Other Facts


  • Clients qualify based on the child’s age and the family’s zip code and income level.
  • Clients are recruited through the media, staff and parent referrals, referrals through community partners, walk-ins and other Porter-Leath programs.
  • Early Head Start funds are provided by the Department of Health and Human Services. Head Start funds are provided by Shelby County Head Start. Additional funding for both programs is provided through United Way of the Mid-South and private donations.

  • While celebrating its 150th year, Porter-Leath opened the Golightly Early Head Start Center in 2000 with Douglass and American Way Head Start to follow in 2001 and 2002, respectively. In 2006, Porter-Leath Early Head Start, Douglass and American Way Head Starts all received accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), one of the highest sets of professional standards for early childhood education programs in the United States. In 2012, Porter-Leath expanded preschool services by partnering with KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools to provide preschool services for 5 classrooms. In 2013, Porter-Leath added the Frayser Head Start and Child Development Center and expanded preschool services through a partnership with eleven ASD schools in Shelby County.

    Featured Story
    Valerie's three boys attended Porter-Leath Head Start and now she is giving back to make sure future students have the same great experience and education.
    Ways To Give
    Donate Today
    Join us to build stronger children, stronger families & a stronger Memphis.
    It's fun, easy and rewarding!