Head Start/Early Head Start

Head Start and Early Head Start provide comprehensive, high-quality early care and education and support services to vulnerable young children from birth to kindergarten, pregnant women, and their families. Support services include access to health screenings, referrals, and follow-up support; parenting resources; and social services. CLASP promotes federal and state policies to expand access to Head Start and Early Head Start. Our analysis of state and national program data helps advocates and policymakers to make the case for maintaining and improving quality. For state fact sheets based on Head Start Program Information Report (PIR) data, go to In the States.

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).

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