Why Head Start?
It’s summed up in one sentence by Ashleigh, a Head Start parent. “All of my kids have attended, and they have continued to excel in education throughout their school careers.”
Head Start is the national commitment to give every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, an opportunity to succeed in school and in life. In the 50+ years since its inception, Head Start has improved the lives of more than 37 million children and their families. Head Start alumni—or “Head Start babies,” as they often call themselves—are in all walks of the nation’s life.
Educators, doctors, lawyers, military personnel, artists, engineers, religious and civic leaders, and scientists—from all across the country—remember Head Start as the place where, at an early age, they acquired a life-long love of learning.
The dollar investment in Head Start programs has a high rate of return. For each dollar invested in Head Start, there is an economic gain of seven to ten dollars. Some research suggests it could be as high as seventeen dollars. This is realized in reduced expenses of grade retention, special education services, and a higher earning potential and economic success in adulthood, thus reducing dollars needed for welfare and the criminal justice system.
In addition to life and school preparedness, Head Start is also the nation’s laboratory for early learning innovation. Head Start offers a unique whole child/whole family program design coupled with a delivery system that includes local programs, national standards, monitoring, professional development, and family engagement. This has been the basis for many subsequent statewide and community initiatives.