The Head Start program, established in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson as part of his War on Poverty, is one of the nation’s best known and most popular domestic programs. The program, which currently serves over 900,000 children and has a budget of nearly $7 billion, is up for reauthorization this year.
Under current law, funds for Head Start go directly from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to local grantees, bypassing states. President Bush has proposed to give states the option of controlling Head Start funds and integrating the Head Start program with other preschool programs. In order to obtain control of Head Start funds, states would have to present a plan that, among other requirements, shows how they would prepare poor children to succeed in the public schools.
The Brookings Welfare Reform & Beyond Initiative sponsored a public forum to discuss this proposal and its implications. The forum brought together policy-makers from the Bush administration and Capitol Hill with researchers and child advocates to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the Bush proposal and discuss the future of Head Start.
Panel 1: Overview of Administration Plan and Reaction from Capitol Hill
Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, The White House
U.S. Representative Michael N. Castle (R-DE)
U.S. Representative George Miller (D-CA)
Panel 2: The Role of States and Communities
Sterling Professor of Psychology, Yale University
Henry L. Johnson
Superintendent of Education, State of Mississippi
Director, Albina Head Start Program, Portland Oregon
Consultant, Child Care Strategies
Panel 3: What Does the Research Tell Us?
James J. Gallagher
Kenan Professor of Education, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Director of Labor and Population Program and Professor of Economics, RAND
Craig T. Ramey
Distinguished Professor in Health Studies and Director of the Georgetown Center on Health and Education, Georgetown University