The Head Start Program Kendra Smith Washington State University Introduction This intent of this paper is to focus on the Head Start program. The paper begins with a quick history of Head Start. The history provides information on when the program was created and who created it. Following the history, is an overview of Head Start. The overview provides a complete description of the program. It includes the costs of attending and who the program serves. This paper includes many scientific research studies that prove the effectiveness and impact Head Start has on children.
The research also suggests areas of improvement to enhance the program. This paper ends with my personal evaluation of the Head Start program, conclusion and additional thoughts. HistoryThe war on poverty was initiated by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. CITATION Jea l 1033 (Hines) He developed many social welfare programs in an effort to decrease the national poverty rate. The Economic Opportunity Act was established that same year.
This act led to the creation of Head Start Programs in 1965. CITATION Lud l 1033 (Ludwig & Phillips) The founder of Head Start is Sargent Shriver. He created the program promote school readiness among children born into poverty. Originally, the program started out as an 8-week, summer only program. CITATION Jea l 1033 (Hines) Project Head Start was located in old churches and basements of public schools. CITATION Jea l 1033 (Hines) The program proved to be an academic success and had enrolled many low income children. After two years, Project Head Start transformed to the Head Start program. CITATION Jea l 1033 (Hines)DescriptionHead Start is a federally funded preschool program that provides many services and resources to low-income children and their families. Since 2016, Head Start has improved the lives of over 18.5 million children. CITATION Jea l 1033 (Hines) Among the children enrolled, 33.8% are black, 29.9% are Caucasian, and 29.7 % are Hispanics. CITATION Jea l 1033 (Hines) Along with educational attainment, the program offers physical and mental health services through the Department of Social and Health Services. The main goal of this program is to decrease poverty by promoting school readiness. Children may only attend the program for two years and parental involvement is mandatory. Children who meet the income guidelines may attend full-time or part-time. In 2002, the average cost of attending Head Start was $6633 per child. CITATION Jea l 1033 (Hines) Head Start also provides early intervention support for children with disabilities. Early intervention is crucial for children with special needs. Head Start is designed to provide resources and services to families of children with special needs. CITATION Jea l 1033 (Hines) Low income families may contact their local Head Start to see if they qualify for this program. Research Evidence Research suggests that Head Start has proven to be a beneficial program for low income children. According to Hines, qualifying children who do not attend Head Start, or any other early childhood program, are more likely to fail state assessments, drop out of school, be involved in teenage pregnancy, and lack reading and writing skills. CITATION Jea l 1033 (Hines) Many studies have been conducted over the effectiveness of Head Start. The study organized by Garces, Thomas, and Currie examine the experiences of siblings. One sibling who attended Head Start and one who did not. CITATION Lud l 1033 (Ludwig & Phillips) During the across sibling examination, Garces and his colleagues concluded that Head Start provides positive long term effects. Specifically, white children who attended Head Start were 22 percent more likely to graduate from high school and 19 percent more likely to attend college, compared to the sibling who did not attend Head Start. CITATION Lud l 1033 (Ludwig & Phillips) Along with educational attainment, this study proved that Head Start participants are 12 percent less likely of being involved, arrested, and charged with criminal activity. CITATION Lud l 1033 (Ludwig & Phillips)The study administered by Garces and his colleagues remains questionable compared to other studies. Some disadvantages of this study includes the use of self-reports. The majority of this study focuses on the self-reports of adults who attended Head Start during early childhood. Self-reports may be an unreliable way to measure the effects of Head Start due to the high likelihood of misreporting. CITATION Lud l 1033 (Ludwig & Phillips) According to Deming, self-reported crime data is highly unreliable. CITATION Dav09 l 1033 (Deming, 2009)Another study administered by David Deming also included the examination of across sibling experiences. One sibling participated in Head Start and another sibling who did not participate in any type of early learning program. Deming’s data is derived from the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth which includes low-income children who could have attended Head Start. CITATION Gib13 l 1033 (Gibbs, Ludwig, & Miller, 2013) In this study, the children were given a set of tests to measure math and literacy skills. The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test was administered to the CNLSY children during a period of time when the children were at least three years old and at most five years old. CITATION Gib13 l 1033 (Gibbs, Ludwig, & Miller, 2013) The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test was administered again when the CNLSY children were older than ten. CITATION Gib13 l 1033 (Gibbs, Ludwig, & Miller, 2013) The CNLSY children aged between 5 and 14 completed the Peabody Individual Achievement math and reading test every year. CITATION Gib13 l 1033 (Gibbs, Ludwig, & Miller, 2013)Overall, the results of these tests show the impact Head Start has on siblings who participate versus siblings who do not participate in any type of early learning program. Participants of the Head Start program display higher average scores compared to nonparticipants. At ages 5-6, standard deviations of Head Start participants measured .145, measurements at ages 7-10 were .133, and at ages 11-14 measurements were .055. CITATION Gib13 l 1033 (Gibbs, Ludwig, & Miller, 2013)Similar to the findings of Garces and his colleagues, Deming’s research concludes that Head Start creates positive long term outcomes for low-income participants. Long term outcomes include high school graduation, college-going, idleness, crime, teen parenthood, and health. CITATION Gib13 l 1033 (Gibbs, Ludwig, & Miller, 2013)The disadvantage of the study conducted by Deming is it only compares siblings who participated in Head Start and those who did not participate in any type of early learning program. This study does not measure children who attended other types of early learning programs. Overall, the results of Deming’s study prove that early learning programs, in general, prove to be beneficial to children. This study would benefit from studying children of other early learning programs outside of Head Start. This would produce more reliable results on determining Head Starts effectiveness and the long term outcomes of the program. One of the strengths of this study is it proves the outcomes of children within the same family. It is important to study siblings as it offers better insight among children with the same family dynamics. The Head Start Impact Study is one of the largest studies done on this program. This was a large random assignment study that served as an accurate national representation of Head Start. This study was spread across 23 states that collected data from 383 Head Start centers. CITATION USD10 l 1033 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010) A total of 4667 children participated in the study. CITATION USD10 l 1033 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010) One of the main goals of this study was to determine the circumstances and services that had the biggest impact on children. Also, who was impacted the most from the program. CITATION USD10 l 1033 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010) The results of this study were used to improve the effectiveness of the program. CITATION USD10 l 1033 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010)Overall, the Head Start Impact Study supports the results of previous research. Head Start is a beneficial program. It has significant positive impacts on cognitive, social-emotional, health and parenting outcomes. It is important to note that this study concluded patterns of children with undesirable outcomes. Generally, parents who experienced depressive symptoms had the biggest negative impact on children. CITATION USD10 l 1033 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010) The quality of the Head Start center also impacts children. The most beneficial Head Start centers focus on language, literacy, and math activities. High quality centers is also determined by teacher qualifications. Head Start centers that consisted of the majority of teachers with at least an associate’s degree proved to be the most beneficial to children. CITATION USD10 l 1033 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010) There are certain groups of children who benefit more than others. This includes, Black children, Special needs children, Dual Language Learners, and children from non-urban communities. CITATION USD10 l 1033 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010)The advantage of this study is it demonstrates the areas where Head Start can improve. For instance, increasing the amount of high quality teachers and providing training in curriculum to include more literacy, language, and math activities. This study also provides some insight on the groups that have the biggest impact from attending Head Start. In contrast, this study could improve from studying other early learning programs. It would be interesting to compare Head Start to other high quality preschool programs. Personal Evaluation The evidence from the above research indicates that the Head Start programs proves to be beneficial to low income children. I love that the program focuses on the whole child. CITATION Bar05 l 1033 (Barnett & Hustedt, 2005) This approach is what sets Head Start apart from other preschool programs. Offering low income children and their families with dental, mental, and physical health services has a positive impact on child development. Children who attend Head Start have many positive outcomes. According to Garces and his colleagues, the long term outcomes include the increased likelihood of graduating high-school, attending college, and less likely to be involved in crime. CITATION Lud l 1033 (Ludwig & Phillips) Deming adds to the outcomes by including Head Start participants are less likely to be involved in teenage pregnancy and are more likely to be in good health. CITATION Dav09 l 1033 (Deming, 2009) The Head Start Impact study provided information on areas that could be improved within the program. Such as, teacher qualifications and curriculum. It also highlights who Head Start impacts the most. All of the studies could be improved by comparing other high quality preschool programs to the Head Start program. Overall, the results of the research studies prove that the program works. It works more for Black children, special needs children, Dual Language Learners, and children from non-urban communities. CITATION USD10 l 1033 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010) Based on the findings from the Head Start Impact Study, the program should focus on the needs of children who have depressed parents. I would recommend this program as it proves to have a positive lasting impact on low income children. Overall Conclusion In conclusion, the Head Start program focuses on low-income children and their families. It promotes school readiness and offers many essential services to promote child development. This program was developed as an effort to decrease poverty. Based on the studies conducted, it proves to be a valuable program for many children. The participation of Head Start creates positive long term effects on children. This is especially true for Black children, special needs children, Dual Language Learners, and children from non-urban communities. CITATION USD10 l 1033 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010) The long term effects include, decreased involvement in teenage pregnancy and crime. As well as educational attainment. Children who attend Head Start are more likely to be ready for kindergarten compared to some of their peers who do not attend. Test scores prove that Head Start participators score higher in literacy and math. Other studies conclude that Head Start is more effective when teachers have college degrees and focus the curriculum on literacy and math. Future research should focus on the impact of Head Start versus other high quality preschool programs. For now, Head Start is serving its purpose by promoting school readiness among children living in poverty. References BIBLIOGRAPHY Barnett, W. S., & Hustedt, J. T. (2005). Head Start’s Lasting Benefits. Infants & Young Children, 16-24.Deming, D. (2009). Early Childhood Intervention and Life-Cycle Skill Development: Evidence from Head Start. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.Gibbs, C., Ludwig, J., & Miller, D. L. (2013). Head Start: From Origins to Impacts. Retrieved from How Good is Head Start.Hines, J. M. (n.d.). An Overview of Head Start Program Studies. Journal of Instructional Pedagogies, 2-10.Ludwig, J., & Phillips, D. A. (n.d.). Long-Term Effects of Head Start on Low-Income Children. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.Morris, P. A., Connors, M., Friedman-Krauss, A., McCoy, D. C., Weiland, C., Feller, A., . . . Yoshikawa, H. (2018). New Findings on Impact Variation From the Head Start Impact Study: Informing the Scale-Up of Early Childhood Programs. Sage Journals.Smith, L. C. (2012). Head Start: A True Start to Getting Ahead: A literature Review of the Head Start Program as a Primary Poverty Prevention Strategy. McNair Scholars Research Journal, 167-182.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). Head Start Impact Study Final Report. Rockville: Westat.