The Success of Head Start

"[A] comprehensive approach is what has made our Head Start program such a nation-wide success. We must never let that creation be destroyed! Sure, we can always improve on what we started, but the basic components which make Head Start unique should not be abandoned, reduced in size, or limited in any way!”
Washington, DC| May 18, 2005

Our Quote of the Week reminds us of the success of Head Start, the War on Poverty program that combines early childhood education, nutrition, health, and social services programs for children, while encouraging active parent participation. Head Start celebrates its 55th birthday today.

At the age of 89, Sargent Shriver sent this speech to the National Head Start Association so that his words could be included in the program for its 40th anniversary celebration. Our Quote of the Week is taken from this speech. In his remarks, Sargent Shriver makes clear that the reason for which Head Start is so successful is that it takes a comprehensive approach to nurturing the well-being of young children. Head Start provides early childhood education for children at a critical time in their development (programs vary from place to place, but the overall age range today is from birth to age five). The programs also serve children in other ways, by ensuring that their health care and nutritional needs are met. Head Start programs actively engage parents, as well, by encouraging involvement in daily activities and providing volunteer opportunities that strengthen leadership skills. As with all of the other programs of the War on Poverty, Head Start programs cater to the individual needs of the community in which they operate. There is no single blueprint for Head Start programs; each one addresses the distinct needs of its own community.

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Peace requires the simple but powerful recognition that what we have in common as human beings is more important and crucial than what divides us.
Sargent Shriver
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