A new study displays the extensive benefits the federal Head Start program has provided to low-income families for decades.
The federal Head Start program has been providing school readiness assistance for low-income families since 1965. Designed to give babies, toddlers, and young children the ability to excel in school, this program has now been in place long enough to measure the impact this has had on struggling populations. A new study has confirmed that the second generation displayed many gains.
The University of Notre Dame and Texas A&M University studied the multigenerational impact that the Head Start program has had on families. The findings displayed that teen pregnancy decreased by 8%, criminal activity decreased by 13%, and high school graduation rates increased by 11%.
Wage increases were directly linked to the increase in high school graduation rates, as well as improvements to lifestyle. The second generation of children raised in the Head Start program were more likely to attend preschool, raise self-esteem levels, and perpetuate lower juvenile crime rates. Education has been a main focus in improving low-income Americans’ lifestyles for years and it began with President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty.
For over 50 years now, the Head Start Program has aided over 37 million children ages five and under. In 2019 alone, 1 million pregnant women and children were aided through partnerships with family homes, child care services, and healthcare centers. All of these services are working to offer healthy early childhood development outcomes because that is when the most human development occurs.
Years ago, scientists determined that 90% of the brain is developed by age six. That means that children’s earliest experiences shape their ability to learn and grow from a young age. Early childhood is a crucial period for understanding the world and learning to explore. With the proper guidance, young children have proven that they can beat all the odds and overcome adversity. That is exactly why the Head Start program was created, and now that decades of results have been recorded, studied, and published, underprivileged children and families can use this information to better themselves and their situations.
According to the United States Census Bureau households decreased in 2020 and the poverty rate rose to 11.4%. The Center on Childhood Poverty & Social Policy at Columbia University reported in February that Jumped to 17% in January of 2022. This was a 41% increase and affected Black and Latino children the most, but all demographics experienced a significant increase. Knowing this, the report confirming Head Start’s successes is welcome news being that more children are in need.
Whether The Biden Administration plans to expand the Head Start program in wake of the economic crisis is unknown, but families across the nation are receiving a boost from the decades-old effort to end poverty in America. The rising cost of basic necessities is presenting challenges, the likes of which have not been seen since the Carter administration. As economists warn that the country is facing a recession, families in need are doing everything they can to survive. Having programs like Head Start available may be able to lighten the burden and keep the next generation on track to enjoy a full well-rounded education which will give them better opportunities throughout their entire adult life.