Head Start Program
In January of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson assembled a panel of experts to develop a comprehensive childhood development program intended to help communities better serve the needs of disadvantaged preschool children. The catalyst for this initiative was new research on the effects of poverty, as well as on the impacts of education. This research indicated an obligation to help disadvantaged groups, compensating for inequality in social or economic conditions.
The panel’s findings became the foundation of Head Start as we know it today, designed to help break the cycle of poverty by providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs. A key component of the program established that it be culturally responsive to the communities it served, and that the communities have an investment in its success through the contribution of volunteer hours and other donations as nonfederal share.
Today, Head Start is administered by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) as part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Since 1965, Head Start has served over 32 million children, growing from an eight-week demonstration project to include full day/year services and many program options. Head Start serves over a million children and their families each year in urban and rural areas in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories, including American Indian, Alaskan Native and Migrant/Seasonal communities.
All children attending our Head Start program receive high quality education and child development services including children with disabilities that promote children’s cognitive, social, and emotional growth for later success in school. Children benefit from qualified teachers who receiving ongoing supervision and coaching that supports implementation of research-based curriculum, supports the development of dual language learners and provide developmentally appropriate learning experiences. In addition, our services adhere to the Head Start Program Performance Standards and our approach in providing care is strongly grounded in the cultural, linguistic, and social needs of the families and their local communities. Parents have opportunities to be involved in the education services, to learn about and provide feedback on selected curricula and instructional materials used in the program, and encouraged to volunteer in the class and group activities. We view families as a vital component of our program leadership and work closely with them as equal partners to support their children’s ongoing development and learning.
Benefits for Enrolled Children and Families
– Developmental screening and referrals to needed medical, dental, nutrition, vision, and mental health services that support each child’s growth and school readiness.
– Access to home visits, parent engagement activities, and family advocates who help meet individual family goals
– Well organized learning environments that promote indoor and outdoor learning experiences and adequate opportunities for choice, play, exploration, and experimentation among a variety of sensory and motor experiences.
– Prepared for the transition to Kindergarten or other community programs that meet the family’s needs.
– Prepared to advocate for their children at the Kindergarten level and beyond