Head Start Families’ Program Selection and Experiences

Head Start Families’ Program Selection and Experiences

OPRE Report 2022-09
Published: Feb 28, 2022
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Associated Project

Head Start: The Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES)

Time frame: 2006-2022

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation

Clients
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Authors

Natalie Reid

Addison Larson

Judy Cannon

Key Findings
  • When deciding on a child care arrangement or early childhood program, parents’ top reason for choosing their Head Start program is to help their child get ready for kindergarten (cited by 91 percent of parents).
  • Parents are very satisfied with an array of aspects related to their Head Start program. Importantly, more than 90 percent of Head Start parents report being satisfied with how their Head Start program has prepared their child to enter kindergarten, made them feel welcomed, and supported and respected their family’s culture and background.
  • Head Start parents are also engaged in many program activities and report positive program experiences, with most parents agreeing that staff at their program are culturally responsive.
  • Half of all Head Start parents (54 percent) expect their child to attend kindergarten next year. Thirty-nine percent plan to return to their Head Start program for a second year, and 6 percent plan to send their child to another preschool. Most of those who do not plan to return to Head Start are trying to find an ECE setting closer to home.

This research brief uses nationally representative data from the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES 2019) to understand why Head Start families choose their child’s Head Start program, what their experiences are like in their program, and if they plan to return next year. The findings offer a glimpse of program characteristics that parents value and report as positive that Head Start programs can continue to emphasize to better serve children and families who participate.

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