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Head Start Program for Success

How Head Start Programs Can Help Your Preschooler

Designed to help low-income families, and signed into law in 1965, Head Start ushered in the first federally sponsored preschool program in the United States. While lately there has been a push to establish universal preschool for all 4-year-olds in the United States, Head Start remains the grandfather of publicly funded programs, serving nearly one million children a year.

The program teaches basic reading and number skills as well as social skills designed to prepare low-income, at-risk children for a successful elementary school experience. Additional facets of the Head Start program include health, nutrition and other social services for parents and children.

Because of its longevity, there has been time to assess the impact of Head Start on children as they work their way through the school system. And the results are generally favorable. Studies have found that children who attended Head Start programs are less likely to be held back a grade, need special education, or be involved with crime as juveniles.

Early Head Start -- another federally funded program that evolved from Head Start -- serves children from birth to age 3. Like Head Start, Early Head Start focuses on healthy infant and toddler development, early child education, and parent education.

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