New research adds to previous findings about the benefits of Head Start programs for young children, showing children are 93% less likely to end up in foster care. “New evidence suggests Head Start not only helps kids develop and allows parents to go to work, but it may also help at-risk kids from ending up in the foster care system,” says Sacha Klein, assistant professor of social work at Michigan State University. Klein and her colleagues studied the national survey data of nearly 2,000 families in which a child had entered the child welfare system for suspicion of abuse or neglect. Those children were either removed from the home or were being overseen by a caseworker.
This research suggests Head Start may protect against foster care because of its focus on the entire family. Not only are these programs service educational needs of children, but they emphasize parental involvement and provide support to parents around housing, continued education, and financial security. Head Start programs have minimum performance standards to ensure quality for all children and their families.
Children under the supervision of a case-worker are not necessarily eligible for Head Start. Klein believes all children involved with the state’s Child Protective Services should be eligible for Head Start to greatly reduce the number of children removed from their families.
Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC (ACS) works with partners across the country to advocate for high-quality early childhood programs, such as Head Start. Head Start and Early Head Start were not reauthorized in 2017. ACS will continue to track reauthorization and funding levels of Head Start.