What is Head Start?
The Head Start Program is a comprehensive early childhood development program that serves low-income children from ages three to five and their families. Head Start is a federally funded program that is operated by local entities. Lewis-Clark Early Childhood Program is a grantee for Head Start serving Asotin, Nez Perce, Latah, Clearwater, Lewis and Idaho counties. Children who attend Head Start participate in school-readiness cirriculum that includes literacy, language, science, mathematics, and social-emotional development. They also receive medical and dental services, have healthy meals and snacks and enjoy playing safely indoors and outdoors.
Who is Eligible?
Age: The Head Start preschool program is available to children ages 3 years old (on or before August 31st and five year old and their families.
Income: Head Start prioritizes families at or below 110 percent of the federal poverty level. View the Federal Poverty Level Guidelines.
Up to 10 percent of Head Start children can be from families who are above the income limits. They are accepted into the program because of:
- Developmental factors, such as developmental delay, disability, or other special needs
- Environmental factors, such as family violence, chemical dependancy, child protective services involvement or incarcerated parents
Other: Children are also eligible for Head Start if they are:
- In foster care or involved with the child welfare system
- Have a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash grant
Benefits of Head Start
Numerous studies have confirmed time and again that a child's learning begins at birth. For children living in poverty, quality pre-kindergarten education such as provided by Head Start is crucial in establishing life-long healthy patterns and development. Because experiences between birth and age five shape a child for life, the quality of the child's environment, social interactions and learning experiences during those years is critical.
- Head Start children increase their social skills, impulse control, and approaches to learning and decrease their problem behaviors including agression and hyperactivity over the course of a year (Aikens et al., 2013).
- Head Start children are more likely to receive dental check-ups and have healthy eating patterns than non-participants (Lee et al., 2013).
- Head Start chldren have lower Body Mass INdex (BMI) scores and are less likely to be overweight compared to children in non-parental care (Lee et al., 2013)
- Head Start parents are more likely to increase their educational levels during their children's early years than other at-risk-parents (Sabol & Chase-Lansdale, 2014).
- Head Start parents invest more time in learning activities with their children, and non-resident fathers spend more days per month with their children (Gelber & Isen, 2011).
Program Options - (options vary by site)
- Half-day a.m. & p.m.
- Full day, year round
- National Head Start Association: www.nhsa.org
- Department of Health and Human Services: www.acf.hhs.gov
Aikens, N., Kopack Klein, A., Tarullo, L. & West, J. (2013) Getting Ready for Kindergarten: Children's Progress During Head Start. FACES 2009 Report. OPRE Report 2013-21a. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Lee, R., Zhai, F., Han, W.-J., Brooks-Gunn, J., & Walfogel, J. (2013). "Head Start and Children's Nutrition, Weight, and Health Care Receipt." Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28(4), 10.1016/j.ecresq.2013.06.003 doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2013.06.003
National Bureau of Economic Research. (2011, December). Children's Schooling and Parents' Investment in Children: Evidence from the Head Start Impact Study (Working Paper No. 17704). Cambridge, MA: A. Gelber & A. Isen
Sabol, T.J. and Chase-Landsdale, P.L. (2014). The Influence of Low-Income Children's Participation in HEad Start on Their Parents' Education and Employment. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. doi:10.1002/pam.21799