Issue Position: Head Start (Early Learning)
Head Start helps disadvantaged children enter school prepared to learn and succeed, making it one of the most successful and effective poverty fighting programs in the country. With a balanced curriculum, children develop the intellectual capacities and social skills needed to perform once they reach kindergarten. In addition, Head Start's comprehensive services offer low-income children the appropriate immunizations and health care that will help them fully develop.
Despite Head Start's success in preparing millions of children to succeed in the classroom, the program lacks sufficient resources to cover every eligible child. In addition to expanding the program to include all eligible children, fully funding Head Start would strengthen quality standards and enhance important educational services. Head Start teachers also deserve the opportunities and wages consistent with their professional responsibilities, but a commitment to increasing teacher pay requires greater resources than are currently available.
Participation in Head Start remains one of the most effective ways to improve the educational performance of children in the United States.
Head Start participants are less likely to repeat a grade and less likely to require special education.
Head Start children are significantly more likely to complete high school and attend college than their siblings who do not attend Head Start.
Head Start children are more likely to have had their immunizations than those children who do not attend preschool. A higher proportion of Head Start children receive dental care than non-Head Start children.
Head Start has immediate positive effects on children's socio-emotional behavior, including self-esteem, achievement motivation, and social behavior.
Only 60 percent of children eligible for Head Start currently receive services; and only three percent of children eligible for Early Head Start receive services.