Monday, December 19, 2016

The real problem with Head Start — and why it needs a fresh start - The Washington Post

The real problem with Head Start — and why it needs a fresh start - The Washington Post:

The real problem with Head Start — and why it needs a fresh start


A new study on Head Start finds the federal program falls far short of its goal of providing high-quality services to all young children who need them and that there are “fundamental and difficult to understand disparities across states” in access, funding and quality even though it is a federal program with uniform national standards and goals.
The study on Head Start —  created to provide education, nutrition and health services to low-income children and their families —  was done by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, says in part:
We find fundamental and difficult to understand disparities across states in access. For example, the percent of low-income 3- and 4-year-old children served in each state varies from 7 percent in Nevada to 49 percent in Mississippi. The percent of low-income infant and toddlers served varies from just over 1 percent in Nevada to almost 8 percent in the District of Columbia. Focusing on only children living in poverty, in Nevada, a number equal to 16 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in poverty were enrolled, compared to 100 percent in North Dakota. Under age 3 the number enrolled as a percent of children in poverty ranged from 2.7 percent in Nevada to 13 percent in the District of Columbia.
Here’s a post on the study and about the future of Head Start, by Steven Barnett, a Board of Governors Professor and director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers. His research includes studies of the economics of early care and education including costs and benefits, the long-term effects of preschool programs on children’s learning and development, and the distribution of educational opportunities. Dr. Barnett earned his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Michigan. He has authored or co-authored over 180 publications. He is co-author, along with Allison Friedman-Krauss Ph.D., of the State(s) of Head Start report.

By W. Steven Barnett
The first five years of life can set children on a path toward success — or failure  – in school and beyond.  Understanding the unique importance of these early years, the federal government in 1965 launched Head Start to boost the learning and development of young children disadvantaged by poverty.  But in order to achieve this ambitious goal, Head Start must be able to deliver high-quality services to all the children who need it.
Yet, our new study finds Head Start falls far short of this goal. Despite important progress over the past 8 years, nationwide Head Start enrolls less than half the intended children and families — and even this spotty access is highly unequal.
Our report, “State(s) of Head Start,” finds the program has never been funded adequately, The real problem with Head Start — and why it needs a fresh start - The Washington Post:

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