State-Level Accessibility of Head Start Data Across the United States – Child Trends

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The preschool landscape is complex, consisting of several publicly funded programs supported by federal, state, and local funds. Included in this landscape is Head Start, a critical early childhood education (ECE) program that serves—in every state and territory—young children in families with incomes at or below the federal poverty line, families experiencing homelessness, families receiving assistance like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), families of children with disabilities, and children who are in the foster care system. Head Start also provides tailored services for children from Tribal communities and to families of migrant and seasonal farmworkers.[i] Comprehensive data on Head Start programs are available nationally but can be challenging to integrate with other preschool and K-12 data, in part because the data typically flow from local Head Start grantees up to the federal Office of Head Start (OHS), bypassing the state. However, without the inclusion of Head Start data, researchers, policymakers, and preschool administrators are unable to answer key questions about the experiences of those being served or understand which children and families are served in states with Head Start and state pre-kindergarten (pre-K).

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