President Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget proposal includes an expansion of the Head Start program that aims to provide early childhood education for low-income families.
“The Budget expands access to high-quality care for tens of thousands of additional infants and toddlers through Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, and provides over $1 billion in additional funding for Head Start to make sure children are served in full-day, full-year programs that research shows lead to better outcomes for children,” according to a White House fact sheet of the budget.
However, a 2012 study by the Department of Health and Human Services does not support the administration’s claim that Head Start helps children. There were some initial benefits for participating children, but their gains were erased by the time the children reached third grade. Developmental domains, elementary school experiences, health and language development all failed to see widespread gains by the third grade.
In summary, there were initial positive impacts from having access to Head Start, but by the end of 3rd grade there were very few impacts found for either cohort in any of the four domains of cognitive, social-emotional, health and parenting practices,” the study said. “The few impacts that were found did not show a clear pattern of favorable or unfavorable impacts for children.”