Head Start programs partner with families to help America’s children succeed in school and in life. Serving more than a million children from birth to 5 each year, Head Start programs are integral contributors to the human services ecosystem in almost every community. The Head Start program is an investment in a child, a family, and a community. This month, the Office of Head Start (OHS) in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is highlighting the wide variety of services Head Start programs offer enrolled children and families. At ACF, we work toward an America where children, youth, families, individuals, and communities are resilient, safe, healthy, and economically secure. Join us in celebrating Head Start Awareness Month and the ways Head Start programs partner with other ACF programs to leverage comprehensive services for children and families.
Head Start programs support growth and learning for infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children across all domains of development, and health and wellness for enrolled pregnant women. These comprehensive services include a focus on family support toward economic mobility; research-based curricula that foster a child’s approach to learning; healthy physical activity and nutrition; support for social and emotional development; full inclusion of children with disabilities and delays; and connections to a medical and dental home and screenings. Parents participate as leaders in Head Start programs by giving input on program activities and operations. Head Start programs partner with families in a variety of settings, including centers, family child care spaces, and children’s own homes. Since 1965, Head Start programs have provided services to more than 37 million children.
At ACF, we work deliberately to support children and families across our offices and different funding streams. Many children and families enrolled in Head Start programs also receive services through: Child Care or Community Services Block Grants; family assistance such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and child support enforcement; and programs managed by the Administration for Children, Youth and Families. Head Start families also engage in programs administered by the Administration for Native Americans, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and the Office of Human Services Disaster Preparedness and Response. The Head Start program was created as a lever to disrupt generational poverty, and its roots are deeply intertwined with these programs. The Head Start program — which operates in thousands of communities across the nation — was designed to build off the successful model of community leadership reflected in the Civil Rights era. The federal-to-local model for the Head Start program allows local leaders to create a Head Start experience that is unique and specific to the needs of that community. This is why we say with pride that no one Head Start program looks the same.
The Administration for Children and Families fosters health and well-being by providing federal leadership, partnership, and resources for the compassionate and effective delivery of human services. The Head Start program is a key part of delivering on this mission as we work together across agencies to align and maximize federal supports.
Follow along on the Family Room Blog and on social media during the month of October as we highlight the best of the Head Start program using #HeadStartAwarenessMonth.
Happy Head Start Awareness Month!
Dr. Bernadine Futrell is the Director of the Office of Head Start.