The Headstart ActAva Germany-Carter
The University of Texas at Arlington
The Headstart ActGiven that 47 million United States’ residents live in poverty, issues associated with education gaps are widespread (DeNavas-Walt and Proctor, 2015). In fact, 73,439 children under 18 are living in poverty (DeNavas-Walt and Proctor, 2015). Desiring to ensure these children do not remain in poverty as adults, the United States government passed the Head Start Act to provide the early educational gaps that have been shown to perpetuate cycles of poverty (Rich, 2013).
Policy Analysis Model
The purpose of this paper is to address issues related to the school readiness of low-income children. This focus examines the enhancement of cognitive social and emotional development in a learning environment that supports children ‘s growth in language, literacy, mathematics, science, social-emotional functioning, creative skills, physical skills and approaches to learning. This examination will look at the provision of low-income children, and their families’ health, educational nutritional, social and other determined services. The analysis of these services is based on the assessment of family needs. According to White (2013), the most significant problem taking place today between rich and poor children is language. About the head start program, Stanford psychologist conducted a study that suggests due to lower SES (socio-economic status), by the entrance of head start, many lower SES kids are already falling six months behind higher SES head start students (White, 2013).
The purpose of the authors study set out to compare infant development among different socioeconomic status, and suggested that the problem between lower and higher SES head start students, is subsequently due to language deficits (White, 2013). According to empirical research, parents of children in lower SES do not directly subject their toddlers to more words and language (White, 2013).
The year 1965 was the beginning of the Head Start Act. The Headstart Act was formed because of the War on Poverty—which was President Lyndon B. Johnson concerted effect to reduce poverty across the United States (Matthews, 2014). Head Start’s goal is to enhance the school readiness of lower-income families and their children. Adapted from the model “whole child,” “the Headstart program contains extensive services that include preschool education. Also, medical, dental, and mental health care; nutrition services; and efforts to help parents foster their child’s developmental skills” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, 2010). Head Start services were implemented for the responsiveness of each child’s and families ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage (USDHHS, 2010).
Headstart study final report suggests that the year of 1998 Congress mandated the reauthorization of the act and the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) determine, on a nationwide level, how impactful Head Start will become on the children it serves. This legislative mandate requires that the impact study address two central research questions. These questions included, “What difference does Head Start make to the key outcomes of a child’s development and learning for low-income children? What difference does Head Start make for parents practices that can contribute to the child’s school readiness?” Under what circumstances does Head Start achieve the greatest impact? What works for which children? What Head Start services are most related to impact?” (USDHHS, 2010). The results suggest that the Headstart Act on a scale of 1-10 reached the highest level of early learning with children before pre-school age. As of today, the Headstart Act is few and in-between. There are fewer resources within these communities to target the children who are in need of the services.
Goals and Objectives
Some of the most significant measures about the Head Start programs is that it gives the residents an opportunity for quality child care services and programs in locally owned or controlled spaces. All of the Head Start facilities must be designed to meet the needs of children, their parents, classroom personnel, service personnel, and administrators (FR DOC. 2015-02538).
The program must also support the care of children by creating environments that allow employees the benefits of focusing their efforts on nurturing and caring for children. Most facilities have a design in place that provides features that encourage strong, positive relationships between staff and children. The Headstart centers are created as a safe and comfortable environment. The designer’s approach is that the centers are pleasing to the naked eye and will enhance the involvement of families. Have a creative eye for response to local cultures, climate, and regional preferences in designing the center. Seek and consider the goals of parents, the sponsoring agency, and the governing board of directors. Create a center environment that attests to Head Start’s high level of commitment to providing appropriate, well-planned and beautiful settings for children of the community (FR DOC. 2015-02538).
Benefits and Services
Benefits of the Head Start Act could include but are not limited to a child being able to comprehend more efficiently. Also, the preschooler’s advancement over other students that have not received services from the program. Better language skills for the child and cutting the thirty million word gap. As well as, captivating a positive way of thinking, speaking, and behaving.
In a nationwide study performed by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., and Columbia University’s Center for Children and Families, in collaboration with the Early Head Start Research Consortium, concluded that 3-year-old early Head Start children performed significantly better on a range of measures of cognitive, language, and social-emotional development, than children who did not participate in a Head Start program (www.acf.hhs.gov). In addition, their parents scored significantly higher than those parents on many levels of the home environment and parenting behavior. More so, Early Head Start programs had impacts on parents’ progress toward self-sufficiency (www.acf.hhs.gov).
For a child to become eligible for the Head Start program that said the child must be living in a family whose income is below the federal poverty line. Currently, the average ranges are $14,350 for a family whose household is four individuals or above. Head Start eligibility guidelines are more stringent than eligibility for many other federal programs (NHSA, 1990). Although policies allow ten percent of Head Start children to come from families that are over income. However, across the United States, around 5 percent of the children who are in the Head Start program are from lower SES families. Although the demand early learning services is far more significant in communities with a higher cost of living, children age five and below and is from families with incomes below the poverty guidelines are eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services. Even homeless children can attend Head Start. Foster children are the only children whose income is not calculated by the program. If a child’s parent receives any government assistance, they too are eligible.
In recent years “President Obama summons for the federal government to match state money to provide preschool for all low-income families who have children under the age of five. The proposal was placed on the budget that Congress voted on postpone negotiating until later in the year of 2016. The administration is also offering state grants through its Race to the Top Program to support early childhood education. Critics argue, however, that with so few programs offering high-quality instruction, expanding the system will prove a waste of money and that the limited funds should be reserved for elementary and secondary education” (Rich, 2013).
“How many children and families receive services?
Over a million children are served by Head Start programs every year, including children in every U.S. state and territory and American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) communities. In fiscal year (FY) 2014:
Head Start programs served 884,410 children and their families.
Early Head Start programs served 145,308 children and 14,506 pregnant women and their families.
Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS), which serves children from birth to age 5, served an additional 30,902 children.
American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) programs served 24,405 Head Start, and Early Head Start children, included in the count above.
View Head Start fact sheets to learn more about demographics, state allocations, program statistics, and general information on Head Start enrollment history.” http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ohs/about/head-startRole of the Social Worker
The social worker must advocate for the betterment of families who have been deprived of receiving the same education of other communities with a higher SES status. The “no child left behind” law, should apply to all children, not just those who are privileged. Social workers are to speak up on all children behalf and fight for policy change in their honor.
Headstart is a program that every pre-preschool age children can benefit from. It should not matter what type of environment the child resides in for them to receive an adequate education. On any given day no child should be left behind especially if it constitutes their environment.
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