Head Start is a national program that aims to promote school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social, and other services to enrolled children and families. The Head Start program provides grants to local public and private nonprofit and for-profit agencies to provide comprehensive child development services to economically disadvantaged children and families; the Office of Head Start places special emphasis on helping preschoolers develop the reading and mathematics skills they need to be successful in school. The program also seeks to engage parents in their children’s learning and to promote their progress toward their own educational, literacy, and employment goals (Administration for Children and Families [ACF] 2009).
The Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, was first launched in 1997 as a periodic, longitudinal study of program performance. Successive nationally representative samples of Head Start children, their families, classrooms, and programs provide descriptive information on the population served; staff qualifications, credentials, and opinions; Head Start classroom practices and quality measures; and child and family outcomes. FACES includes a battery of child assessments across many developmental domains; interviews with children’s parents, teachers, and program managers; and observations of classroom quality. In 2008, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) funded Mathematica Policy Research and its partners— Educational Testing Service and Juárez and Associates—to design and conduct FACES 2009.