Oct 07

Remembering the Origins of Head Start

by Sargent Shriver Peace Institute | 10/07/2019 12:23PM | Quote of the Week | War on Poverty

Remembering the Origins of Head Start

Remembering the Origins of Head Start

Our Quote of the Week celebrates Head Start, the early childhood education program for children facing difficult economic circumstances. With its holistic approach, Head Start also includes health care and social components, and support and services for parents, all of which vary based on the needs in individual communities. With October being Head Start Awareness Month, we could not think of a better time to celebrate this powerful program. The quote is from Sargent Shriver's Speech at the 35th Anniversary of Head Start. As Sarge outlines in the speech, Head Start began as one of the programs of the War on Poverty.

Following his call to wage "an unconditional war on poverty" in the 1964 State of the Union Address, President Lyndon Johnson appointed Sargent Shriver to lead the poverty efforts. Working as the Director of the newly-created Office of Economic Opportunity, Sarge took a dynamic and integrated approach to eradicating poverty, designing a set of support and training programs for people in various stages of life who were struggling with economic instability. As the quote indicates, the original plan for the War on Poverty did not include Head Start, but after seeing the great need, it became clear that providing education for young children would be crucial for tackling poverty.

Launched on May 18, 1965, Head Start was immediately successful, and it has continued to be popular in communities across the country. According to the Office of Head Start, the program has served more than 36 million children since 1965. In that time, it has also grown from an eight-week demonstration project to include full-day, full-year services and includes a diverse set of program options, depending on the needs of individual communities.

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