What Are Some Key Events in the History of Head Start?


Quick Answer

Head Start began with President Johnson's call for a war on poverty in 1964 and the inclusion of Project Head Start in the Economic Development Act of 1964. Project Head Start, which launched in the summer of 1965 as an eight-week summer program for more than 500,000 children, expanded to a nine-month program that fall. In 1967, its project for children up to age 3 laid the groundwork for the funding of Early Head Start in 1995.

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Full Answer

Having begun as a program of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Project Head Start moved to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in 1969, the same year that the Migrant Head Start program began. Migrant Head Start expanded to serve the children of all seasonal agricultural workers in 1969. In the mid-1970s, Head Start focused on training early childhood educators through 13 pilot projects, and Head Start advocates formed the National Head Start Association. It was in 1975 that Head Start published its first performance standards. Head Start added a nutritional component in 1983, and in 1984 Congress increased Head Start funding for the second time, as Head Start served more than nine million children.

While culturally appropriate services were a key from its inception, Head Start published its first statement of multicultural principles in 1991. Other Headstart initiatives in the 1990s included outreach to homeless children, exploring the roles of fathers and establishing partnerships with child care providers. The 2007 Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act increased program accountability, revised the Head Start funding formula, increased requirements for Head Start staff and expanded eligibility. Other initiatives in the first decades of the 21st century have included obesity prevention; parent, family and community engagement; and the establishment of training and technical assistance centers, as of 2015.

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