Health services have been a priority for Head Start since its inception and remain a core need for the more than 1 million children enrolled in Head Start and Early Head Start programs each year.
Drawing on survey data from 73% of Head Start and Early Head Start program health managers, the 2012-2013 Head Start Health Manager Descriptive Study explores the context and delivery of health-related activities and programming for Head Start and Early Head Start programs. This is the first study to look at the role of the health manager in nearly 20 years.
The report also reveals the insights and needs of staff who implement health components. Health managers are well-credentialed, with two-thirds holding at least a bachelor’s degree and 86% reporting a health-related educational background. They describe their work as demanding but fulfilling, requiring coordination with program staff and community stakeholders, as well as the trust of Head Start families. Most cite a need for ongoing training and professional development in evidence-based health services and more streamlined access to standards and resources. These and other insights should help inform program managers to better support these front-line professionals.