Nursing Sample Essay


Discuss the outcomes that are measured to support the effectiveness of the Head Start Program.


Frameworks for Assessing High Risk Factors in Populations: Outcomes That Are Measured to Support the Effectiveness of the Head Start Program

The Head Start Program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides early childhood education and health services to preschool children from minority groups and low-income families (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2010). Such children are otherwise at a high risk of not being able to start school with their peers, thus, falling behind time. Since its launch in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty program, taxpayers have spent over $180 billion on funding Head Start as of 2008 (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2010). With such a high expenditure on the program, it is obvious for taxpayers to want to know just how effective the program has been, if at all, and the outcomes that have been measured to arrive at that finding.


Several researchers have found that the impact of the Head Start program on children’s cognitive and socio-emotional development, parenting and health outcomes, though statistically significant, has not led to the full realization of the stipulated goals (Barnet & Hustedt, 2005; Start & Assistance, 2009; Currie & Thomas, 1993). On cognitive abilities, the 3-4 year olds have shown significant impact in terms of their reading, math and language abilities as a result of the program (Barnet & Hustedt, 2005). They have also able to be attentive a while longer than other non-Head Start children. While the program has registered positive emotional symptoms on the socio-emotional development of the 3-year old cohort, it has registered negative emotional symptoms on the 4-year old cohort (Garces, Thomas & Currie, 2002). Moreover, the general child health status has been significantly affected by the program. Parents that are part of this program have shown to offer more emotional support in terms of language and learning stimulation, and have also made positive changes on the way they punish their children for wrongdoing (Love et al., 2005).

From the studies examined, it is evident that the Head Start program has been somewhat effective, through the expectations set out during its creation have not been fully met. While it is true that significant benefits and improvements that have been noted, one trend that stands out is that results have not been improving with continued spending on the program. If the Head Start is to continue being implemented, a lot of changes and advancements will need to be made in order to ensure that taxpayers’ money is not being spent on a lost cause. Lastly, further research needs to be carried out in future to enable stakeholders to stay up to date with developments in the implementation of the program.


Barnett, W. S., & Hustedt, J. T. (2005). Head Start’s lasting benefits. Infants & Young Children, 18(1), 16-24.

Currie, J., & Thomas, D. (1993). Does Head Start make a difference? (No. w4406). National Bureau of Economic Research.

Garces, E., Thomas, D., & Currie, J. (2002). Longer-term effects of Head Start. The American Economic Review, 92(4), 999-1012.

Love, J. M., Kisker, E. E., Ross, C., Raikes, H., Constantine, J., Boller, K. & Fuligni, A. S. (2005). The effectiveness of early head start for 3-year-old children and their parents: lessons for policy and programs. Developmental psychology, 41(6), 885.

Start, E. H., & Assistance, E. (2009). The 2009 Health & Human Services (HHS) Poverty Guidelines. Federal Register, 74(14), 4199-4201.

US Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). Head Start Impact Study: Final report. Washington, DC: Administrations for Children and Families.

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