Who’s in Head Start? Three- and Four-Year-Olds Fill Programs Nationwide

Posted August 14, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
There were 1.1 million kids in Head Start in 2013

In 2016, the most recent full year of data on record, 1.1 mil­lion kids par­tic­i­pat­ed in Head Start programs.

Man­aged by the U.S. Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices, Head Start pro­motes school readi­ness by offer­ing ear­ly learn­ing, health and par­ent involve­ment ser­vices to low-income chil­dren and their families.

Chil­dren up to age five are eli­gi­ble to enroll, though the major­i­ty of kids par­tic­i­pat­ing nation­wide — near­ly 76% — were three or four years old in 2016.

Five-year-olds are least like­ly to par­tic­i­pate in a Head Start pro­gram. Only 1% of enrollees had cel­e­brat­ed their fifth birth­day in 2016 — a sta­tis­tic like­ly influ­enced by the fact that chil­dren typ­i­cal­ly start kinder­garten around this same age.

Found­ed as part of Lyn­don B. Johnson’s War on Pover­ty in 1965, Head Start now has three types of pro­gram offer­ings: Head Start, Ear­ly Head Start, and Migrant/​Seasonal Head Start.

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