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What is Head Start?

Preschools and Kindergartens

Head Start is a federal program designed to provide a number of services for families at or below the poverty level throughout the country. Those services include Head Start preschools, which are located throughout the country, and welcome children less than 5 years of age. Head Start was part of the "War on Poverty" under President Lyndon Johnson and was created in 1965.

Head Start Goals

The idea behind Head Start is to put children from financially impoverished backgrounds on a level playing field with other children as they enter kindergarten. While children with differing ability levels often perform at or about the same level by the 2nd or 3rd grade, many studies show that kids are better prepared to succeed in kindergarten and beyond with the preparation and training provided in preschool. The disparity between children who live at or below the poverty level and other kids is often significant in early school years, according to testing. In addition to painting, drawing, dress-up and other activities in preschool classrooms, Head Start provides a number of other services.

Additional Head Start Services

All kids in Head Start schools are served nutritious snacks or meals so that everyone's attention is on fun and learning. Head Start financing helps to pay for playground equipment and field trip for the children. Outside of the classroom, Head Start provides families with access to medical attention, such as dental checkups and medical checkups at Head Start centers. There are also programs offering education and care for pregnant mothers. The idea is to bring a parent and child into the many programs offered by Head Start at the earliest possible age.

Head Start and Adults

While preschools are one of the main features of the national Head Start initiative, there are many Head Start workers at centers in cities throughout the country who work all day with adults. The Head Start program recognizes that getting a job is crucial if low-income Americans a chance are to look for better opportunities and a better live for themselves and their families. That's why Head Start sponsors adult education classes that can led to GED's as well as training to operate computers and  learn how to complete resumes and cover letters as part of the job-seeking process. Head Start also focuses on families where English is not the primary language, teaching English both to children and their parents.

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