Head Start has had a strong impact on communities and early childhood programs across the country and is one of the longest-running programs to address systemic poverty in the United States.
In 1964, the Federal Government asked a panel of child development experts to draw up a program to help communities meet the needs of disadvantaged preschool children. The panel report became the blueprint for Project Head Start.
Project Head Start, launched as an eight-week summer program by the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1965, was designed to help break the cycle of poverty by providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs. Recruiting children age three to school age entry, Head Start was enthusiastically received by educators, child development specialists, community leaders, and parents across the Nation.
In 1969, Head Start was transferred from the Office of Economic Opportunity to the Office of Child Development in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and has now become a program within the Administration for Children and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services.
Head Start has evolved into a program that provides education, health and social services. Education includes preschool education to national standards that have become de facto standards for all U.S. preschools. Health services include screenings, health check–ups, and dental check–ups. Social services provide family advocates to work with parents and assist them in accessing community resources.
KRFDC’s Head Start program began in 1966. The earliest records indicate that in 1974 Head Start was funded at $435,424 and served 330 children. At the time, the program employed 73 people.
Since 1966, KRFDC Head Start services have expanded into Garrard, Jackson, Laurel, and Rockcastle counties. In 2009 KRFDC Early Head Start was funded to serve children in Clark, Estill, Madison, and Powell counties.
Today Head Start is funded to serve 796 children and EHS is funded to serve 108 infants and toddlers.