Mission & History
Our Mission is to engage and support children and families by providing the educational foundation that inspires life-long learning.
This 18-minute documentary film explores the lives of Head Start students, parents, teachers, and alumni working to envision and create a better world for all Americans. Watch the film and you’ll get to know Head Start families throughout the country and see first-hand how the program has given more than 33 million Americans a head start on their education.
The Head Start Program was Designed to Help Break the Cycle of Poverty
For more than 50 years, thousands of children and their families have received services through Head Start.
In January of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared The War on Poverty in his State of the Union speech. Shortly thereafter, Sargent Shriver took the lead in assembling a panel of experts to develop a comprehensive child development program that would help communities meet the needs of disadvantaged preschool children. Among these experts were Dr. Robert Cooke, a pediatrician at John Hopkins University, and Dr. Edward Zigler, a professor of psychology and director of the Child Study Center at Yale University.
Part of the government’s thinking on poverty was influenced by new research on the effects of poverty, as well as on the impacts of education. This research indicated an obligation to help disadvantaged groups, compensating for inequality in social or economic conditions. The Head Start program was designed to help break the cycle of poverty, providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs. A key tenet of the program established that it be culturally responsive to the communities served, and that the communities have an investment in its success through the contribution of volunteer hours and other donations as nonfederal share.
The program began as a pilot project in 1964, aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty by providing quality education to preschool children from low-income families. Established by the Economic Opportunity Act, this Community Action Agency program is the second oldest Head Start program in the nation.