The Handbook of Families and Poverty covers hotly debated issues associated with public policy and funded research as they relate to families and poverty. Contributors, bringing multiple perspectives to bear, aim to show alternatives to welfare in subgroups facing specific challenges that are currently not adequately addressed by the welfare system.  Readers will appreciate the insightful summaries of research involving poverty and its relationship to couple, marital, and family dynamics.

Chapter 20: Giving Head Start a Fresh Start

Giving Head Start a Fresh Start

Giving head start a fresh start

From its earliest days, Head Start has been an extremely popular program because it is based on a simple idea that makes great intuitive sense: A child's early learning experiences are the basis of later development and, given the connections between poverty and low academic achievement, a compensatory preschool program should help disadvantaged children catch up with more fortunate children.

Who could be against a relatively low-cost, voluntary program that children and parents seem to love? Especially if evaluations show that it “works”? But the attractiveness of Head Start's underlying concept should not make it immune from constructive criticism. Given the results of recent evaluations, the program's continued defensiveness has become counterproductive. Head Start cannot be ...

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