Earlier this week, we posted about the Head Start evaluation, and how the educational gains are not present into third grade and beyond.
Head Start is an important program, and some of the most lasting impacts are found in groups with the greatest need. In fact “at the end of 3rd grade, the most striking sustained subgroup finding was related to children from high risk households.” These kids from high risk households demonstrated sustained cognitive impacts in early elementary school and better reading and word identification skills at the end of third grade. Children from high stress households also sustained long-lasting positive impacts from Head Start than children from families with low-to-moderate stress. For these children, Head Start is imperative for ensuring school readiness and later educational gains.
Head Start makes a positive impact in children’s lives in as well as outside of the classroom. One study found that for females enrolled in Head Start, they were 25% less likely to fail to obtain a High School or GED diploma, and 33% less likely to be arrested (Media Matters) than females who were not enrolled in Head Start. Benefits of Head Start also include multiple health benefits for children and their parents.
For the 6,685 children served by Head Start and Early Head Start in Nebraska in 2011, many of whom come from high risk or high stress families, even the slightest gain in cognitive and language skills, personal and family health, or positive life choices can make a world of difference in their future.