The Head Start CARES Demonstration: Another Failed Federal Early Childhood Education Program
August 13, 2015
Questions regarding the effectiveness of the Head Start program are multiplying as the results of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services demonstration project, Head Start CARES, discovered the program ineffective. Originally an initiative of the War on Poverty (1965), Head Start provides grants to help disadvantaged children before they enter kindergarten through early childhood education programs. The premise for the program was that preschool children from low-income families are more likely to be deficient in social, emotional, and behavioral development than their well-off counterparts.
- Until 1998, the Head Start programꞌs effectiveness had never been scientifically evaluated.
- In 2002 the Head Start Impact Study, mandated by Congress, began to evaluate the benefits of participating in Head Start programs.
- Head Start CARES program tested the effectiveness of three ″enhancements″ to regular Head Start services.
- The results found that the Head Start CARES program failed to improve cognitive, socio-emotional, health and parenting outcomes of participating children.
While the Head Start CARES program was an attempt to improve the outcomes of the Head Start program, unfortunately the few small benefits found in preschool disappeared during kindergarten. Small-scale social programs have seen successful outcomes, yet the federal government has been unable to successfully reproduce these results. Overall it seems that increasing spending on early childhood education programs will not noticeably improve a childꞌs future.
Source: David B. Muhlhausen, "The Head Start CARES Demonstration: Another Failed Federal Early Childhood Education Program," Heritage Foundation, August 06, 2015.
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