Head Start Historical Background
In 1964, the Federal Government asked a panel of child development experts to draw up a program to help communities overcome the handicap of disadvantaged preschool children. The findings of that panel report became the blueprint for Project Head Start.
Project Head Start, launched as an eight week summer program by the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1965, was designed to help break the cycle of poverty by providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs. Recruiting children age three to school entry age. Head Start was enthusiastically received by education, child development specialists, community leaders and parents across the nation.
In 1969, Head Start was transferred from the Office of Economic Opportunity to the Office of Child Development in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and has now became a program within the Administration on Children, Youth and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services. A well established, though still an innovative program, Head Start has had a strong impact on communities and early childhood programs across the country. Each year, Head Start serves many American Indian, migrant, urban and rural children and their families in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Pacific Insular Areas.
Head Start programs are operated by over 1500 community based organizations. Grantees include school districts, universities, community health centers, tribal governments, Community Action Agencies, and other nonprofit organizations.