Head Start Program - Essay Example

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Abstract This short paper aims at introducing Head Start to those who are unfamiliar with it. It points out that disadvantaged children are its target group, identifies the Office of Head Start under the Department of Health and Human Services (Administration for Children and Family), regional offices and government and non-government agencies and grantees and its implementation mechanism…
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Head Start Program
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"Head Start Program"

Key words: Head Start, Early Head Start, Program Risks. Introduction to Head Start Program Established in 1965, Head Start has been one of the most significant US government social programs for investing in children and their families and communities. First started as an eight-week summer program for poor children, this program covers such areas as education, health, nutrition, social services and parent’s involvement for children’s development. Over time, Head Start has expanded with Congress adding new initiatives, including Early Head Start for low-income families with pregnant women, infants and toddlers. The federal government implements this program in all states as well as in Indian tribal areas, migrant communities and six territories outside the US. It has enrolled 27 million children since its beginning. Goal of Head Start The goal of Head Start is to promote school readiness by enhancing the social and cogitative development of children “through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families” (Office of Head Start, 2011). Supporting Evidence for Implementing Head Start Head Start has been successful in helping children and getting political support. It has served 27 million needy children so far. Puma, Bell, Cook & Heid (2010) found that Head Start has positive impact on children’s preschool experiences, cognitive domain, social-emotional outcomes, health outcomes and parenting outcomes. As a result, the program has enjoyed continued support from the US government and Congress. Successive presidents have asked for its expansion and Congress has approved it and appropriated increasingly large resources. Now Head Start covers education, health, nutrition, social services, parental involvement, pregnant women, infants and toddlers. It has developed standard and practice guidelines for its areas of activities and set up regional and state training and technical assistance centers and family service centers. Early Head Start program has also initiated in 1994 (Head Start History). Thus, Head Start enjoys support from target communities and politicians alike. Achieving Head Start Goal Political support and funding are key to achieving Head Start’s goal. As political support has been strong, the program has not faced any major funding problem so far. According to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF, 2011), the program, initiated with $96.4 million in 1965, has obtained appropriations of $7.2 billion in 2010. While 561,300 children were enrolled in 1965, that number has reached more than 900,000 in 2009 (ACF, 2011). This may change in the future, though. Therefore, continued improvement in performance will be necessary to sustain public and political support for Head Start. Who Does Head Start Support? Children are the main target group of Head Start. The program supports children through childcare, child welfare, addressing development disabilities, and helping families and communities with children, including tribal groups, refugees and low-income families (ACF, 2011). Implementing Agencies The Office of Head Start under the Administration for Children and Families of the Department of Health and Human Services is the federal agency that implements Head Start. ACF implements Head Start activities through its Regional Offices and the Office of Head Read More
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