Head Start is a federally-funded program targeting children ages 3-5 and providing a variety of services, including education in the form of preschool, and nutrition and medical services. It was introduced in 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson and adopted into law as part of the Economic Opportunity Act. It is overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services within the Administration for Children and Families.
According to the The Office of Head Start:
"Head Start programs 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. They engage parents in their children's learning and help them in making progress toward their educational, literacy and employment goals. Significant emphasis is placed on the involvement of parents in the administration of local Head Start programs."
In 1995, a program called Early Head Start, was established to assist children from birth to three.
Teaching methods and curriculum varies from classroom to classroom, as programs can develop their own courses of study, use one that is developed by a state education agency or use one created by an educational publisher. According to the Head Start website, "Head Start's performance standards for education and early childhood development require that the programs' curricula support each child's cognitive and language development, including emergent literacy skills."
Head Start shouldn't be confused with Universal Pre-K, which are state-funded programs, and are not based on economic need.
Children from birth to age five from families with income below the poverty line are eligible for services. To enroll your child, call 866-763-6481.