In Focus: Head Start/Early Head Start

Feb 24, 2016  |  PERMALINK »

2014 Data Demonstrates Crucial Role of Head Start for Children and Families

By Anitha Mohan and Christina Walker

Head Start programs provide high-quality early childhood education and comprehensive services to poor children under 5, pregnant women, and their families. New fact sheets from CLASP highlight 2014 data on participation by children, pregnant women, and families, as well as the staff serving the Head Start population, in Head Start Preschool, Early Head Start (EHS), and the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) programs.

Head Start served more than 1 million children and more than 14,000 pregnant women in 2014. The 2014 Head Start appropriation was $8.6 billion. Data collected by the federal Office of Head Start demonstrates the critical role Head Start services play in the lives of these children and families.  In 2014:

  • Ninety-seven percent of children had continuous access to medical care and health insurance, and were up to date on their immunizations by the end of the Head Start year.
  • Seventy-four percent of families accessed at least one family service through all Head Start programs, the most frequently used services being parent education (51 percent) and health education (46 percent).
  • Ninety-four percent of pregnant women enrolled in EHS received prenatal health care and 74 percent received postnatal health care.

Further, Head Start staff are essential to the success of the children and families. In the Head Start Preschool Program, 96 percent of teachers had at least an associate’s degree (A.A.) in early childhood education or a related field, and 71 percent of teachers had a bachelor’s degree (B.A.) or higher in early childhood education or a related field—a 4 percent increase from 2013. In EHS, 59 percent of infant and toddler teachers and 76 percent of home visitors had at least an associate's degree in early childhood education or a related field.

Read more about Head Start PreschoolEarly Head Start, and Migrant and Seasonal participants, families, and staff. 

View state-by-state Head Start data  through CLASP's unique web-based DataFinder. Datafinder breaks down data by all programs as well as Early Head Start, and Head Start Preschool (a brand-new feature).

Feb 16, 2016  |  PERMALINK »

New CLASP Analysis Highlights Disparate Access to CCDBG and Head Start by Race, Ethnicity

By Christina Walker and Stephanie Schmit

According to new CLASP analysis, access to the core federal early childhood programs—the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), Head Start, and Early Head Start (EHS)—is not only sharply limited for all eligible children but especially limited in particular states and for particular racial and ethnic groups. Most striking, in part because of constrained federal budget resources, is the low level of access that Hispanic/Latino children have to CCDBG, especially in fast-growing states. The report is a unique analysis of participation of eligible children in these programs by race/ethnicity and state.

Nationally, too few eligible children, regardless of background, are served by these important programs that help low-income children and parents access early childhood programs and progress economically. Federal and state investments severely limit access to high-quality child care and early education for many children. And for groups of children in particular states, access is extremely limited. Near flat funding or minimal increases perpetuate inequities, as there is no way to increase access for one group without reducing access for another. Fewer than half of eligible preschool-aged children are able to participate in Head Start, fewer than one in six children receive child care assistance, and fewer than 5 percent of infants and toddlers participate in EHS. Yet, CLASP analysis shows that for some children—and in particular states—the likelihood of accessing these programs is even lower.

CLASP finds:

  • While only half of eligible children are served, participation nationally in Head Start preschool did not differ dramatically for all racial and ethnic groups analyzed (54 percent for eligible Black children and 38 percent for eligible Hispanic/Latino children, not including children served in the separately administered Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program). The history of Head Start’s grounding in the civil rights movement and its federal-to-local structure suggest that targeting underserved racial and ethnic communities can in fact improve access for minority communities.
  • CCDBG provided lower levels of access for all children as well as sharply less access for eligible Hispanic/Latino children. Compared to 13 percent of all eligible children ages 0-13 and 21 percent of eligible Black children ages 0-13, only 8 percent of eligible Hispanic/Latino children are served. Because of the large number of state policies that impact access to subsidies, it is possible that state decisions make particular groups of children more or less likely to obtain child care assistance.
  • No more than 6 percent of eligible children in any racial/ethnic group has access to Early Head Start. This universally low percent is driven by the size of the federal investment in EHS.

State-level differences in access by eligible children to the Head Start, EHS, and CCDBG are also striking:

  • Hispanic/Latino infants and toddlers’ access to EHS ranges from 1 percent in Georgia to 16 percent in Nebraska. Asian infant and toddlers’ access ranges from less than 1 percent in Georgia to 9 percent in Minnesota.
  • For Black children, the share served in CCDBG ranges from 3 percent in Maine to 42 percent in Pennsylvania. For Hispanic/Latino children, the share ranges from 1 percent in Mississippi to 20 percent in New Mexico.
  • The share of Hispanic/Latino children served in Head Start preschool (not including the migrant program) ranges from 13 percent in South Carolina to 84 percent in Minnesota.

While more analysis is needed to fully understand the causes of differential access across racial and ethnic groups, the brief offers some hypotheses and insights. Stagnant federal funding and outdated funding formulas prevent states with growing or diversifying child populations to target new resources to underserved communities. State-level decision making in CCDBG may result in state policies that contribute to inequities in access.

This analysis cannot answer all of the questions it raises but is intended to begin a conversation about how to ensure equal access to critical early childhood programs across low-income communities of all backgrounds, as well as how to ensure that all children participating in CCDBG and Head Start benefit from access to quality services. We include a number of areas for potential next steps to improve available data and explore and uncover the causes of differential access. Increased federal and state investments are core to ensuring that more children benefit from CCDBG and Head Start; however, an intentional focus is necessary to reduce differences in access across racial/ethnic communities and to better understand disparate impacts of access on communities of color.

View CLASP analysis of access to CCDBG and Head Start by race and ethnicity>>


Dec 16, 2015  |  PERMALINK »

Congress Proposes Increased Funding for Essential Child Care and Early Education Programs

By Hannah Matthews

Early this morning, the U.S. House and Senate released an omnibus funding bill for FY 2016 (the fiscal year that began on October 1). Thanks to the budget agreement made earlier this fall, an increase in the overall discretionary budget authority allowed Congress to allocate funds for much-needed investments. Specifically the bill includes the following funding for child care and early education:

  • A $326 million increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). This is the largest increase in annual funding for CCDBG since 2001 and will provide critical funds for states as they move forward on implementation of the CCDBG reauthorization. The bill includes a $127 million set aside for improving the quality of infant-toddler care.
  • A $570 million increase for Head Start, which includes $141 million for a cost of living adjustment for grantees, a $135 million increase for Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships, and $294 million for supplemental funds to grantees to support increased costs of expanding program operating hours, as well as training and technical assistance on expanding hours. This dedicates some funds for the Administration’s recent proposal in the Head Start draft program standards rewrite to require programs to provide full-school-day and full-school-year services. CLASP recommended that implementation of this proposal include sufficient dedicated resources to avoid reduction in the number of children receiving Head Start services.
  • A $15 million increase for Part B preschool grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and a $20 million increase for IDEA Part C grants for infants and their families.
  • Flat funding for the current preschool development grants programs, which allows for a third year of funding for grantees.

The omnibus bill is expected to pass in the House and Senate in the coming days and to be signed by the President. Stay tuned for further CLASP analysis of tax-related and other provisions of the omnibus spending bill. 

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