History of Head Start

What is Head Start?

Head Start originated as a component of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “war on poverty” in 1965. Head Start currently provides comprehensive early learning services to nearly 1 million children from birth to age five each year through nearly 50,000 classrooms, home-based programs, and family child care partners nationwide.

Lyndon B. Johnson

Since its inception in 1965, Head Start has been a leader in helping children from low-income families reach kindergarten more prepared to succeed in school and in life. (Federal Register/ Vol. 80, No. 118 / Friday, June 19, 2015 / Proposed Rules (p. 35430)) Years later, Head Start continues to provide comprehensive services to enrolled children and their families, including health, nutrition, social, and other services determined by a family needs assessment.

The Head Start/Early Head Start program is designed to promote the school readiness of children ages birth to five from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive and social/emotional competence. In addition, Head Start provides services and education to prepare families to advocate for themselves and their children through parent education and the provision of resources. Head Start is a central part of this Administration’s effort to ensure all children have access to high quality early learning opportunities and to eliminate the education achievement gap. (Federal Register/ Vol. 80, No. 118 / Friday, June 19, 2015 / Proposed Rules (p. 35430))

For more information about Head Start, please visit:

US Department of Health and Human Services – Administration for Children and Families: https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/ Head Start Bureau: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ohs/ Head Start is a national program that promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families.

Iowa Head Start Association: http://www.iowaheadstart.org/IHSAHome.asp The mission of the Iowa Head Start Association is to build the skills of its members to promote and advocate for a wide variety of quality services for all Iowa’s children and families.

National Head Start Association: http://www.nhsa.org The National Head Start Association is a private not-for-profit membership organization dedicated exclusively to meeting the needs of Head Start children and their families. It represents more than 1 million children, 200,000 staff and 2,600 Head Start programs in the United States. The Association provides support for the entire Head Start community by advocating for policies that strengthen services to Head Start children and their families; by providing extensive training and professional development to Head Start staff; and by developing and disseminating research, information, and resources that enrich Head Start program delivery.

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