Head Start is a federally funded, comprehensive early education program of services and supports for preschool-aged children and their families who live in poverty. Services include early education, health services including dental care, nutritional services, and social services. One of the oldest programs in the United States, it aims to mitigate the effects of poverty on children's potential for success in school and to enhance children's social competence and their family's self-sufficiency. This entry describes the values and goals of Head Start, traces its history, and explores its impact.

Values and Beliefs

Social competence refers to the qualities and abilities that children need to succeed in their current environment, in school, and in life. The goal of social competence recognizes the integrated nature of cognitive, social, emotional, ...

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