The Head Start Program Performance Measures Initiative and the FACES Study Design

Publication Date: April 26, 1999

The Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) is a central part of Head Start’s Program Performance Measures Initiative to provide outcome-based information about the Head Start program to the Head Start Bureau and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, local Head Start grantees, Congress and the public. Head Start is a comprehensive early childhood development program for low-income children and their families. Initiated in 1965, Head Start provides early childhood education, health, nutrition, mental health, parent involvement and social services primarily to three- and four-year-old children nationwide, although a new program, Early Head Start, serves children from birth to age three.

As the nation's premier early childhood education program, Head Start is leading the way in developing and reporting on its accountability for services to approximately 800,000 children and their families each year. From initial planning in 1995 to the publication of the Head Start Performance Measures Second Progress Report, Head Start has made dramatic progress toward the development of an outcome-oriented accountability system. This approach combines the best attributes of scientific research with program-level reporting and monitoring and is based on a consensus-driven set of criteria for program accountability.

The Head Start Program Performance Measures Initiative is a response to a specific legislative mandate, strategic planning for Head Start, and broader public emphasis on accountability and the general movement toward results-oriented evaluation. Specifically, the Program Performance Measures were developed in accordance with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Head Start Quality and Expansion, the mandate of Section 641A (b) of the Head Start Act (42 USC 9831 et seq.) as reauthorized in 1994 and the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA)(Public Law 103-62).
The Act defines Program Performance Measures as "methods and procedures for measuring, annually and over longer periods, the quality and effectiveness of programs operated by Head Start agencies" that will be used to identify strengths and weaknesses in the Head Start program both nationally and by region - and pinpoint areas requiring additional training and technical assistance.

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