Head Start, History of

Head Start, a program created in 1965 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, supports school readiness through comprehensive services to children and families. This entry provides background information on this and related programs and describes the unique characteristics of the Head Start program that have evolved since the program’s inception, including the program’s commitment to serving children with disabilities, its mandate to provide comprehensive services and address the needs of the whole child, and its focus on research.


In the early 1960s, there was growing concern that children from low-income families entered school at a disadvantage in relation to their more privileged peers. These children were not only doing less well in school but also had less optimal long-term outcomes. Children raised ...

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