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Head Start is a national program that promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of low income children through the provision of education, health, nutrition, social and other services for children and their families.
The national Head Start program began in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s "War on Poverty" and it continues to be one of the successful programs from that era. Currently, Head Start is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) which awards grants to local public and private agencies. Local grant recipients provide comprehensive child development services to economically disadvantaged 3 and 4 year old children, with a special focus on developing early reading and math skills. Head Start programs are different from public or private preschools because not only do children receive high quality preschool education, they also receive services such as health, nutrition and social services that support them in their education and development. In addition, Head Start engages parents in their children's learning and helps them in making progress toward their own literacy, education and employment goals. Significant emphasis is placed on the involvement and empowerment of parents in the educational process and is a unique feature of Head Start.
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