A New Start On Head Start Essay

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A New Start On Head Start Essay, Research Paper A New Start on Head Start One of the many debated topics in the field of psychology is the concept of critical period in child development. It is often stated that the first years of an infant s life are the most impressionable. Therefore, it is important to properly expose our children to a healthy, nurturing environment so that they will become intelligent, stable human beings in the future. Parents will sometimes even go as far as to expose their child to almost every sport and recreation that is humanly possible in hopes to create the next child prodigy. Nevertheless, this idea of early intervention is a valid one. Taking on a nurture perspective, what a child is exposed to early on in his or her life can greatly influence

his or her social and cognitive development in the future. This is what President Johnson had in mind in 1964 when he created a nationally invested program for the underprivileged youth of America, Head Start. Created as part of Johnson s war on poverty , Head Start is a form of preschool that provides an early boost for impoverished children in hopes to put them on the same social and cognitive level as privileged children. However, despite initial positive findings, new tests show that the results of this program vary and tend to not be maintained. These findings call for a revised policy and program that should be created for our youth. Measures need to be taken to reconstruct the Head Start program so that the positive effects on the children s cognitive and social

development persist rather than desist. The purpose of Program Head Start is to intervene in the cycle of poverty at a crucial time in children s lives by providing them with important learning experiences that they might otherwise miss. Unlike in ordinary preschools, Head Start provides a broader range of services for underprivileged families. Their goals include providing education as well as health, nutrition, and services to parents. Many parents find jobs at Head Start Programs and serve as teacher s aids and staff members. As a result, parents are able to participate in their child s education and development while maintaining a job. However, the realities of Head Start are not all so bright. Every three- or four- year old in the U.S. whose family lives below the poverty

level is eligible to attend a Head Start program. Sadly, though, only 40% (approximately 800,00) are able to attend due to lack of federal funding. However, the government can not be justly accused of not putting any effort to assist its project. The Head Start Budget has jumped from $96 million in 1965 to an estimated $4 billion in 1996 (Creating a 21st Century Head Start, 1993). Thirty-seven percent of Head Start children are African American, 33% are Caucasian, 23% are Hispanic and 3% are Asian. The families of Head Start generally have incomes less that $12,000 per year. Approximately 57% of Head Start programs offer classes five days a week four to eight hours a day. More than 40,000 Head Start classrooms in America are administered by approximately 1,400 grantees with

nearly 140,000 staff at a cost of about $4,300 per child per year (Frankel, 1997). Despite these high figures and investments there is still heated controversy on whether the Head Start program actually produces long-term benefits in the children s development. From the time of its first emergence to recent years, numerous studies, varying in design and quality, have been performed that test effects of the program. Cognitive results are usually examined through grade retention and IQ and achievement tests while socialization is normally determined through behavior such as aggression, delinquency, and classroom etiquette. Early studies showed promising results on cognitive and social development among Head Start children. However, a closer look at studies reveals that many of