Early Head Start Research and Evaluation

Prepared for
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families
woman playing with young boy

The Early Head Start program extends the Head Start concept to low-income pregnant women and families with infants and toddlers. Our staff worked with a consortium of local researchers and program directors to conduct a comprehensive implementation study and a random assignment impact study in 17 sites.

The final report to Congress presented complete findings from our seven-year national evaluation of Early Head Start. The findings showed that the program promotes learning and the parenting that supports it within the first three years of life. Participating children performed significantly better in cognitive, language, and social-emotional development than their peers who did not participate. The program also had important impacts on many aspects of parenting and the home environment, and supported parents’ progress toward economic self-sufficiency. Programs that more fully implemented the Head Start Performance Standards achieved larger impacts across a wide range of outcomes.