Celebrating Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Head Start

Publication Date: April 15, 2000


Since its inception in 1965 as a summer program launched during President Lyndon B. Johnson's "War on Poverty," Head Start has helped more than 16 million children and their families. Head Start was designed to help break the cycle of poverty by providing preschool children with a program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional, and psychological needs. The idea was that, with a little help -- a head start -- children from even the most disadvantaged families could begin elementary school at the same level as their more advantaged peers. In 1998, Head Start served more than 800,000 children in over 48,000 classrooms across the United States. Head Start is also a recognized leader in providing services to children of migrant workers, and American Indian families.

In the last three decades, the United States population has undergone some dramatic demographic changes yielding a far more culturally diverse population. These changing national demographics mean that Head Start must learn how to access new populations, encourage their participation and tailor programs to meet their unique needs.

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