ARRA Funds Expanded Head Start Services for Country's Most Vulnerable

Aug 02, 2011

By Stephanie Schmit

In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) granted Head Start (HS) and Early Head Start (EHS) a collective $2.1 billion to support and expand their programs and services. Of the $2.1 billion ARRA funds, $1.1 billion was dedicated specifically for Early Head Start expansion, and $1 billion flowed through the Head Start formula and was split between expansion, cost of living adjustments, quality improvements, and training and technical assistance.

It was projected that the expansion funds for EHS alone would help serve an additional 55,000 infants, toddlers and pregnant women over two years.  Each year, all Head Start and Early Head Start programs report on their participants, programs and staff through the Program Information Report (PIR). With data now finalized for the 2009-2010 program year, it's clear ARRA funds greatly increased the number of vulnerable children and women served by Head Start and Early Head Start.

The most dramatic program changes happened in Early Head Start. In 2009, there were 727 Early Head Start programs nationally. As a result of the expansion, in the 2010 PIR reporting period, the number of programs increased by 280 to 1,007. Furthermore, in 2009, the total funded enrollment in Early Head Start was 61,148, which increased from 43,385 in 2010 to 104,533 - an increase of 71 percent. The cumulative enrollment (the actual total number of children and pregnant women served throughout the year) increased from 93,287 in 2009 to 133,971 in 2010. The total number of funded slots for pregnant women alone nearly doubled from 3,699 in 2009 to 6,839 in 2010. The actual enrollment of pregnant women in 2009 was 9,605, which increased in 2010 to 13,538.

In Head Start, the number of programs and funded and actual enrollment increased as well.  The total funded enrollment for Head Start increased by 26,816 in 2010. Actual enrollment is up nearly 20,000 from 929,257 in 2009 to 949,003 in 2010. Additionally, there were 17 more Head Start programs nationally in the 2010 program year.

With an increase in funding, programs are able to serve more vulnerable children and pregnant women and provide critical comprehensive child development services to our poorest families. This expansion was critical during the economic downturn and these services continue to be vital for children and families who continue to struggle.

For further information and more 2010 Head Start and Early Head Start program data by state, see the CLASP DataFinder.

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