Results from recent "State(s) of Head Start and Early Head Start" report
Allison Friedman-Krauss is an assistant research professor at the National Institute for Early Education Research, part of the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. She explained that there are federal guidelines the programs have to follow.
“Yet the programs look very different from state to state. And so we're interested in understanding why and just sort of illustrating the differences and calling for some action to try to resurrect those discrepancies to bring all children — all states — up.”
The Head Start program is the bigger of the two, predominantly serving and educating three and four-year-olds. Early Head Start begins with pregnant women and provides services prenatally and up until the child turns three. Both programs were created with the purpose of lifting children out of poverty and providing them with quality early childhood education.
“There's been mixed research on Head Start, but some of it does show long-term impacts into adulthood reducing, you know, crime and increasing earnings for children who attended Head Start”
The report also looked into the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on Head Start across the country.
“The biggest thing that we saw was a huge decrease in the number of children who received Head Start services, attended Head Start during that 2020-21 school year, which is not surprising, a lot of children stayed home.”
The 2020-2021 report showed that in Utah, 36% of children in poverty were enrolled in Head Start compared to a national average of 30%.
This report is important in knowing how many children are involved in the programs and what funding is available for them in each state. The goal is to use these numbers to affect policy change and for awareness around Head Start’s needs to grow. You can view the report at nieer.org