Created in 1965, Head Start is the premier early childhood development program supporting our nation’s lowest-income households. Head Start takes a holistic approach, bringing together education, health care, social services, nutrition services, and parental involvement. Studies indicate that Head Start graduates show better math and language skills, social conduct, and physical development than their non-Head Start peers.
High-quality early childhood programs help children in low-income families develop the skills to succeed in school and give parents the support they need to be productive at work. Studies show that children from low-income families who participate in such programs are less likely to be held back in school or placed in special education, have lower rates of juvenile crime, and are more likely to graduate.
Sadly, Congress does not allocate sufficient funds for these programs. Only one in six children eligible for federal childcare assistance receives it. Head Start serves only about half of eligible preschoolers, and Early Head Start serves approximately 4 percent of eligible infants and toddlers.
The 219th General Assembly (2010) approved the report Loving Our Neighbors: Equity and Quality in Public Education (K–12), which recommitted the PC(USA) “to the principle of equal educational opportunity for all children in the United States.”
We must now commit also to making early childhood education, so crucial to future success in life, available to any child who needs it. Greater investments in Head Start and a national commitment to universal pre-K education are essential policy goals as we address many of our nation’s educational disparities.
Leslie Woods, former representative for domestic poverty and environmental issues, PC(USA) Office of Public Witness
Let us pray
Holy God, as a new school year begins, we pray your blessing on the children. We pray that we who are responsible for the education of all children in our community may provide support for them to grow and thrive. Amen.