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.

Mar 19, 2014  |  PERMALINK »

Head Start by the Numbers: 2012 State Profiles

By Rhiannon Reeves and Stephanie Schmit

All children need good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences to foster their healthy intellectual, social, and emotional development. Head Start and Early Head Start (EHS) provide comprehensive, high-quality early care and education and support services to vulnerable young children from birth to kindergarten, along with pregnant women and their families. These services strengthen families and ensure children enter school ready to learn. 

This week, CLASP released its 2012 Head Start State Profiles, including a new interactive map, that provide state-by-state data on all Head Start programs in the state: Early Head Start, Head Start preschool, and Migrant/Seasonal Head Start. The profiles include information on Head Start participants, families, staff, and programs. All Head Start grantees are required to submit Program Information Report (PIR) data to the federal government on an annual basis. 

According to the 2012 Head Start PIR data:

  • Head Start served over 1.1 million children nationally—5,000 more children than the previous year.
  • 25 percent of children in Head Start primarily spoke Spanish in their homes.
  • 41 percent of children served in Head Start were white, 37 percent were Hispanic, 29 percent were black, and 9 percent were bi- or multi-racial.
  • 97 percent of children had access to a medical home and were up-to-date on their immunizations at the end of the Head Start program year.
  • 91 percent had access to a dental home at the end of the program year.
  • 96 percent had access to health insurance at the end of the program year.
  • 76 percent of families accessed at least one family support service through Head Start.

State-specific information shows that: 

  • At the end of the program year, Massachusetts and Vermont had the highest percentages (100 percent) of children with access to a medical home, while the District of Columbia had the lowest percentage of children (67 percent).
  • At the end of the program year, Delaware and Massachusetts had the highest percentages (100 percent) of insured children, while the District of Columbia had the lowest percentage (68 percent).
  • At the end of the program year, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Rhode Island, and Tennessee had the highest percentages of children (99 percent) up to date on all immunizations, while Vermont had the lowest percentage (81 percent).
  • At the end of the program year, Louisiana and Rhode Island had the highest percentages of children (99 percent) up-to-date on medical screenings, while the District of Columbia had the lowest percentage (31 percent).

The data analyzed in these state profiles demonstrate that Head Start programs, including EHS and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start, are working hard to meet the needs of vulnerable families.  However, only 42 percent of all eligible Head Start children and about 4 percent of all eligible EHS children in the U.S. are currently able to participate in these important programs. Additional funds are necessary to expand access to Head Start services for children in need. 

Visit CLASP's interactive Head Start Map to read the profile for your state, or view the national Head Start PIR Profile for 2012.

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