Head Start provides comprehensive child development services to serve low-income children (ages birth to 5), pregnant women and families by providing a range of individualized services in the areas of education and early childhood development; medical, dental and mental health; nutrition; and parent involvement. Head Start programs adhere to performance standards to ensure the highest possible quality of services. Each year, Head Start serves more than 900,000 children.
The Head Start program is administered by the Head Start Bureau; the Administration on Children, Youth and Families; the Administration for Children and Families; local public agencies, private non-profit and for-profit organizations, Indian Tribes, and school systems.
NGA policy recognizes that Head Start has a long history of providing child development and support services to America's low-income, preschool children and their families. Governors support the intent of this program and believe that Head Start should be part of a collaborative effort to create a more integrated, cost-efficient system of early care and education for all children. Governors are pleased that progress has been made on fostering greater collaboration on both the state and federal levels. However, more coordination is needed to address the mismatch and misalignment of existing programs. While recognizing the importance of maintaining the local administration of the Head Start program, Governors are supportive of exploring options that provide stronger incentives to foster collaboration, including support for early learning councils.
NGA Memo to President-Elect Obama Transition Team on Options to Improve Early Childhood Education
December 23, 2008 memo providing feedback to the President-Elect Obama Transition Team on state strategies to strengthen and improve the federal-state partnership in early childhood education.
NGA Letter on Head Start Reauthorization
September 5, 2007 letter (from Governor Carcieri and Governor Henry) to Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Kennedy and Ranking Member Enzi; and to House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Miller and Ranking Member McKeon expressing Governors' views on conference issues in Head Start reauthorization legislation.