Project Head Start

Project Head Start, launched as an eight-week summer program of 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 entry age, Head Start was enthusiastically received by educators, child development specialists, community leaders, and parents across the Nation. Head Start now serves approximately 721,000 children and their families each year in urban and rural areas in all 50 States, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Territories – including many America Indian and migrant children.

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 of Children, Youth and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services. A well-established, though still an innovative program, Head Start has had a strong impact on communities and early childhood programs across the country. Since 1965, Head Start has served over 13.1 million children and their families.

Follow the timeline to see the history of Head Start.

(The Head Start Program at the Corona Branch of the Queens Borough Public Library. March 4, 1965)

The Head Start Logo Tells a Story

The two squares represent early childhood by suggesting building blocks.

The arrangement of the blocks represent stairs by which this can be accomplished.

The vertical strips represent the child and parent.

The arrow pointing upward represents the direction out of poverty and on to the future.

The colors, red, white and blue represent the United States and the many opportunities it provides for its citizens.