Head Start and Early Head Start are comprehensive child development programs which serve children from birth to age five, pregnant woman and their extended families. They are child-focused programs that have the overall goal of increasing the school readiness of young children in low-income families. . These programs try to prepare young children intellectually, socially, emotionally and physically for their future educational and social endeavors. ( U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2002).. The programs prepare the parent(s) to be supportive in the endeavor. Head Start has the philosophy that parents are a child's first and most influential teacher. The Head Start program is beneficial to early learning.
In 1964, the Federal Government asked a panel of child development experts to draw up a program to help communities meet the needs of disadvantaged preschool children. The panel became the blueprint for Project Head Start (U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources, 2002). Beginning as an eight-week summer program out of the Office of Economic Development, the Head Start program was well received by the education community. From the outset the program offered not only an education program, but also a health program for children. The program strongly encouraged parental involvement
and offered the parents social service help if warranted. Right now the program is
administered by the Administration for Children and Families. There are Head
Start programs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories ( The Online Head Start Resource Center, 2002).
In 1994, the Early Head Start Program was established, because it was determined that children from birth to three years old would benefit greatly from
such a program. For FY2002 the budget is $6.5 billion and President Bush has
proposed a budget of $6.7 billion for FY2003. The program serves approximately
915,000 children. During the 1999 reauthorization, Congress decided that there
was a need for standards of literacy (which have not yet been fully implemented) . ( Good Start, Grow Smart: The Bush Administration's Early Childhood Initiatives, 2002).
In the 1994 legislation revised Head Start performance standards.
Guidelines and new standards were set nationwide. The legislation focused on
infants and toddlers and their families as well as quality services for children. The
education program is designed to meet the needs of each child in Head Start.
Children must meet specific guidelines in order to qualify for Head Start. Family income (over the last year) is considered. The family must
be a low-income family (income below the official poverty level). Other things
taken into consideration for acceptance are the lack of another pre-school
program in the community, a population of less than 1,000 persons and residence in a remote area.
Head Start programs emphasize the importance of early...