- Head Start Program
The Head Start Program is a program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families.
Launched in 1965 by its creator and first director, Jule Sugarman, Head Start was originally conceived as a catch-up summer school program that would teach low-income children in a few weeks what they needed to know to start kindergarten. Experience showed that six weeks of preschool couldn't make up for five years of poverty. The Head Start Act of 1981 expanded the program. The program was further revised when it was reauthorized in December, 2007. Head Start is one of the longest-running programs to address systemic poverty in the United States. As of late 2005[update], more than 22 million pre-school aged children had participated.
- 1 Mission statement
- 2 History
- 3 Programs
- 4 Services
- 5 Budget and Finance
- 6 Homeless children
- 7 Eligibility
- 8 Funding
- 9 Qualifications of teachers
- 10 Effectiveness
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Head Start promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services.
Head Start began as part of President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty and Great Society. Born in the Mississippi Freedom Schools, it was modeled on the Little School of the 400. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 first authorized the program, giving broad powers to the Office of Economic Opportunity, headed by Sargent Shriver, which began the program in 1965. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 also addressed preschool education. In 1968, Head Start began funding a program that would eventually be called Sesame Street, operated by the Carnegie Corporation Preschool Television project.
The Office of Economic Opportunity's Community Action Program launched Project Head Start as an eight-week summer program in 1965. The following year it was authorized by Congress as a year–round program. Congress enacted the Head Start Act in 1981.
In 1969 Head Start was transferred to the Office of Child Development in the Department of Welfare (later the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)) by the Nixon Administration. Today it is a program within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the HHS. In FY 1994, the Early Head Start program was established to serve children from birth to three years of age reflecting evidence that these years are critical to children's development. Programs are administered locally by nonprofit organizations and local education agencies such as school systems.
- Early Head Start Program – Promotes healthy prenatal outcomes, healthy families and infant and toddler development beginning as young as newborns.
- Head Start – Helps to create healthy development in low-income children ages three to five. Offers services that depend on each child and family's culture and experience, to influence all aspects of a child's development and learning.
- Family and Community Partnerships – Head Start offers parents opportunities and support as they identify and meet their own goals, nurture their children in the context of their family and culture, and advocate for communities that support children and families of all cultures.
- Migrant and Seasonal Head Start – Provides Head Start services to children of migrant and seasonal farm workers. Services target children from six-months to five-years of age. Because of the families' work constraints, service hours are longer and programs extend for fewer months than traditional Head Start.
- American Indian-Alaska Native Head Start – Target Native American and Alaska Native children and families.
Head Start provides education, health and social services. Education includes preschool education to national standards that have become de facto standards for all US preschools. Health services include screenings, health check–ups and dental check–ups. Social services provide family advocates to work with parents and assist them in accessing community resources for low income families.
Budget and Finance
The 2011 federal budget for Head Start is $8.1 billion. 85% is devoted to direct services and no more than 15% is to be spent on administration. In addition to the $8.1 billion of federal support, local grantees must provide a 20% cash or in-kind match. Each local grantee is required to have an annual financial audit, if it receives more than $500,000 of federal support.
The 2007 Head Start reauthorization directed Head Start to serve homeless children. Homeless children "lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence." This includes the typical homeless child in a shelter or other outreach program, those living in motels or cars, but also children who are "sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason." Programs must identify such children and provide services within a reasonable period. Head Start programs must provide services to the younger and older siblings of such children.
Eligibility is largely income–based though each local program includes other eligibility criteria such as disabilities and services to other family members. Families must earn less than 130% of the federal poverty level. Up to 10% of any funded program's enrollment can be from higher income families or families experiencing emergency situations. All programs are required to provide full services to children with disabilities (10% of their total enrollment).
Grants are awarded by ACF Regional Offices and the Office of Head Start's American Indian – Alaska Native and Migrant and Seasonal Program Branches directly to local public agencies, private organizations, Indian Tribes and school systems.
The $6.8+ billion dollar budget for 2005 provided services to more than 905,000 children, 57% of whom were four years old or older, and 43% three years old or younger. Services were provided by 1,604 different programs operating more than 48,000 classrooms scattered across every state (and nearly every county) at an average cost of $7,222 per child. The staff consists of nearly 212,000 paid personnel and six times that number of volunteers.
Qualifications of teachers
Section 648A of the Head Start Act lays out guidelines for the training of Head Start teachers and aides. All teachers must have associate degrees in a related field by 2013, and half must have bachelor's degrees. As of 2003, the average Head Start teacher made $21,000 per year, compared to the $43,000 that public school teachers made. As of 2009, the average teacher made $26,000 per year.
Reports on the long-term effectiveness of Head Start are mixed.
DHHS 2011 Study
A 2011 report by the Department of Health and Human Services, “Head Start Impact Study," examined the cognitive development, social-emotional development, and physical health outcomes of Head Start students as compared to a control group that attended private preschool or stayed home with a caregiver. Head Start students were split into two distinct cohorts – 3-year-olds with two years of Head Start before kindergarten, and 4-year-olds with only one year of Head Start before kindergarten. The study found that: 1) Though the program had a “positive impact” on children’s experiences through the preschool years, “advantages children gained during their Head Start and age 4 years yielded only a few statistically significant differences in outcomes at the end of 1st grade for the sample as a whole. Impacts at the end of kindergarten were scattered…”; 2) After first grade, there were no significant social-emotional impacts for the cohort of 4-year-olds, and mixed results on measures of shyness, social withdrawal and problematic student-teacher interactions. The cohort of 3-year-olds with two years of Head Start attendance, however, manifested less hyperactive behaviors and more positive relationships with parents; 3) By the end of first grade, only “a single cognitive impact was found for each cohort.” Compared to students in the control group, the 4-year-old Head Start cohort did “significantly better” on vocabulary and the 3-year-old cohort tested better in oral comprehension. The study concludes, "Head Start has benefits for both 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds in the cognitive, health, and parenting domains, and for 3-year-olds in the social-emotional domain. However, the benefits of access to Head Start at age four are largely absent by 1st grade for the program population as a whole. For 3-year-olds, there are few sustained benefits, although access to the program may lead to improved parent-child relationships through 1st grade, a potentially important finding for children’s longer term development.”
Supportive studies and statements
According to Datta[not in citation given] who summarized 31 studies, the program showed immediate improvement in the IQ scores of participating children, though nonparticipants narrowed the difference over time. Garces, Thomas, and Currie used data from the Panel Survey of Income Dynamics to review outcomes for close to 4,000 adults followed from childhood. Among European–Americans, adults who had attended Head Start were significantly more likely to complete high school, attend college, and possibly have higher earnings in their early twenties than their nonparticipant siblings. African American adults who had attended Head Start were significantly less likely to be booked or charged for a crime than were their nonparticipant siblings. Head Start may increase the likelihood that African American males graduate from high school. In addition, the authors noted larger effects for younger siblings who attended Head Start after an older sibling.
Head Start is associated with large and significant gains in test scores. Head Start significantly reduces the probability that a child will repeat a grade.
Criticisms resulted in plans to improve program services, by for example serving children above and below preschool age.
Mixed studies and statements
A within–family analysis compared children in Head Start with their nonparticipant siblings. Mothers who were themselves enrolled in Head Start were compared to their adult sisters who were not. Currie and Thomas separately analyzed white, black and Hispanic participants. White children, who were the most disadvantaged, showed larger and longer lasting improvements than black children.
In contrast to the general prekindergarten population, disadvantaged children and those attending schools with "low levels of academic instruction" get the largest and most lasting academic gains.
Barnett and Hustedt (2005) reviewed the literature and stated that "Our review finds mixed, but generally positive, evidence regarding Head Start's long-term benefits. Although studies typically find that increases in IQ fade out over time, many other studies also find decreases in grade retention and special education placements. Sustained increases in school achievement are sometimes found, but in other cases flawed research methods produce results that mimic fade-out. In recent years, the federal government has funded large-scale evaluations of Head Start and Early Head Start. Results from the Early Head Start evaluation are particularly informative, as study participants were randomly assigned to either the Early Head Start group or a control group. Early Head Start demonstrated modest improvements in children's development and parent beliefs and behavior."
A 2011 report by the Department of Health and Human Services, "Head Start Impact Study," examines the cognitive development, social-emotional development, and physical health outcomes of Head Start students as compared to a control group that attended private preschool or stayed home with a caregiver. Head Start students were split into two distinct cohorts – 3-year-olds with two years of Head Start before kindergarten, and 4-year-olds with only one year of Head Start before kindergarten.
The report’s findings include 1). Though the program had a “positive impact” on children’s experiences through the preschool years, “advantages children gained during their Head Start and age 4 years yielded only a few statistically significant differences in outcomes at the end of 1st grade for the sample as a whole. Impacts at the end of kindergarten were scattered…” 2). After first grade, there were no significant social-emotional impacts for the cohort of 4-year-olds, and mixed results on measures of shyness, social withdrawal and problematic student-teacher interactions. The cohort of 3-year-olds with two years of Head Start attendance, however, manifested less hyperactive behaviors and more positive relationships with parents. 3). By the end of first grade, only “a single cognitive impact was found for each cohort.” Compared to students in the control group, the 4-year-old Head Start cohort did “significantly better” on vocabulary and the 3-year-old cohort tested better in oral comprehension . 4). Parents of students in the 3-year-old cohort were 7% less likely to spank them and more likely to read to them and involve them in cultural enrichment activities versus parents of 3-year-olds in the control group.
Critical studies and statements
According to the most widely cited source supporting Head Start, children who finish the program and are placed into disadvantaged schools perform worse than their peers by second grade. Only by isolating such children (such as dispersing and sending them to better-performing school districts) could gains be sustained.
In an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, "Head Start Falls Further Behind," Besharov and Call discuss an 1998 evaluation of the Head Start program that led to a national reevaluation of the program. The authors stated that research concluded that the current program had little meaningful impact. However, they did not cite primary sources.
In 2011, Time magazine's columnist Joe Klein called for the elimination of Head Start, citing an internal report that the program is costly and makes a negligible impact on children's well-being over time. "You take the million or so poorest 3- and 4-year-old children and give them a leg up on socialization and education by providing preschool for them; if it works, it saves money in the long run by producing fewer criminals and welfare recipients...it is now 45 years later. We spend more than $7 billion providing Head Start to nearly 1 million children each year. And finally there is indisputable evidence about the program's effectiveness, provided by the Department of Health and Human Services: Head Start simply does not work." 
Congressional Impact Study
In 1998, Congress mandated an intensive study of the effectiveness of Head Start, the "Head Start Impact Study", which issued a series of reports on the design and study of a target population of 5,000 3- and 4-year old children.
The study measured Head Start's effectiveness as compared to a variety of other forms of community support and educational intervention, as opposed to comparing Head Start to a nonintervention alternative. Earlier Head Start Impact Study First Year Findings were released in June 2005. Study participants were assigned to either Head Start or other parent–selected community resources for one year. 60% of the children in the control group were placed in other preschools. The first report showed consistent small to moderate advantages to 3 year old children including pre-reading, pre-vocabulary, and parent reports of children’s literacy skills. No significant impacts were found for the constructs oral comprehension and phonological awareness or early mathematics skills for either age group. Fewer positive benefits were found for 4 year olds. The benefits improved with early participation and varied among racial and ethnic groups. These analyses did not assess the durability of the benefits.
- ^ a b Currie J, Thomas D. (1995). "Does Head Start Make A Difference?" (PDF). American Economic Review 85 (3): 341. http://www.psych.umn.edu/courses/spring05/mcguem/psy8935/readings/currie1995.pdf.
- ^ a b FDA. Memorandum of Understanding.
- ^ a b Gonzalez-Mena, Janet. Child, Family, and Community, Fifth edition, Pearson Education, 2009.
- ^ ACF Office of Public Affairs (OPA) Fact Sheet – Head Start Bureau (HSB).
- ^ a b Zigler E, Muenchow S. (1994). Head Start, p. 8. Basic Books.
- ^ "Head Start History: 1965–Present". Pennsylvania Head Start Association. http://www.paheadstart.org/UserFiles/File/General_History.pdf. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
- ^ Vinovskis M. (2005). The Birth of Head Start. University of Chicago Press.
- ^ History, GOPB .
- ^ a b Head Start factsheet, USA: HHS, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/opa/fact_sheets/headstart_factsheet.html .
- ^ NAEHCY, http://www.naehcy.org .
- ^ Head Start Act Section 648A
- ^ Washington Post. (2007). Bill to Expand Head Start, Bolster Its Teacher Qualifications Is Approved.
- ^ NIEER Fact Sheet on Head Start Teachers – July 2003.
- ^ "Head Start Impact: Department of Health and Human Services Report". Journalist's Resource.org. http://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/civil-rights/head-start-study/.
- ^ Datta, L. (1976). The impact of the Westinghouse/Ohio evaluation on the development of project Head Start: An examination of the immediate and longer-term effects and how they came about. In C. C. Abt (Ed.), The evaluation of social programs (pp. 129–181)
- ^ Lee, V. E.; Brooks-Gunn, J.; Schnur, E.; Liaw, F. R. (1990). "Are Head Start Effects Sustained? A Longitudinal Follow-up Comparison of Disadvantaged Children Attending Head Start, No Preschool, and Other Preschool Programs". Child Development 61 (2): 495–507. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.1990.tb02795.x. PMID 2344785.
- ^ Eliana Garces, Duncan Thomas, Janet Currie (September 2002). "Longer-Term Effects of Head Start". The American Economic Review 92 (4): 999–1012.
- ^ Zigler, Edward; Styfco, Sally J. (February 1994). "Head Start: Criticisms in a Constructive Context". American Psychologist 49 (2): 127–32.
- ^ Currie; Thomas (1995), Head Start, LRA, http://lrainc.com/swtaboo/taboos/headst01.html .
- ^ Valerie E. Lee, Susanna Loeb (Spring 1995). "Where Do Head Start Attendees End up? One Reason Why Preschool Effects Fade out". Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 17 (1): 62–82. doi:10.2307/1164270.
- ^ S. Barnett (1993). "Does Head Start Fade Out?". Education Week 5: 40.
- ^ S. Barnett (Winter 1995). "Long Term Effects of Early Childhood Programs on Cognitive and School Outcomes". The Future of Children 5 (3): 25–50.
- ^ Magnuson; Ruhm; Waldfogel (2004-03-05), NBER, http://www.nber.org/digest/mar05/w10452.html .
- ^ Barnett, W. Steven; Hustedt, Jason T. (January/February/March 2005). "Head Start's Lasting Benefits". Infants & Young Children 18 (1): 16–24.
- ^ "Head Start Impact Study: DHHS Report". Journalist's Resource.org. http://journalistsresource.org/studies/society/education/head-start-study/.
- ^ Administrative History of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Vol. I, p. 252, Box 1, LBJ Library.
- ^ Besharov, Douglas J.; Call, Douglas M. (February 7, 2009). "Head Start Falls Further Behind". College Park, MD: The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/08/opinion/08besharov.html?_r=1. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
- ^ "Time to Ax Public Programs That Don't Yield Results". Time.com. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2081778,00.html#ixzz1UqSuspUQ.
- ^ Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, based on regression analysis of data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study.
- ^ Fryer; Levitt (2004) (PDF), Understanding the black, University of Chicago, http://pricetheory.uchicago.edu/levitt/Papers/FryerLevittUnderstandingTheBlack2004.pdf
- ^ Impact study, USA: HHS, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/hs/impact_study/ .
- ^ (PDF) First year executive summary, USA: HHS, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/hs/impact_study/reports/first_yr_execsum/first_yr_execsum.pdf .
- Office of Head Start (official)
- Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (official)
- National Head Start Association (official)
- The Head Start Experience
- Read Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports regarding Head Start
- The Center for Law and Social Policy
- National Bureau of Economic Research
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