Head Start -- the nation's commitment to giving the most vulnerable children and their families an opportunity to succeed in school and in life -- is an evergreen design. Let us make sure that its redesign 50 years later ensures it continues to be the window of opportunity to the American Dream for generations to come.
Fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty, the United States is still not a fair playing field for millions of children afflicted by preventable poverty, hunger, homelessness, sickness, poor education and violence in the world's richest economy with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $15.7 trillion. Every fifth child (16.1 million) is poor, and every tenth child (7.1 million) is extremely poor. Children are the poorest age group and the younger they are the poorer they are. Every fourth infant, toddler and preschool child (5 million) is poor; 1 in 8 is extremely poor. A majority of our one- and two-year-olds are already children of color. In five years children of color who are disproportionately poor, nearly 1 in 3, will be a majority of all children in America and of our future workforce, military and consumers. But millions of them are unready for school, poorly educated and unprepared to face the future.
In our approach to Head Start family services, this interaction and progress is the beginning of a process to systematically track, manage, and support families as they work on family goals. Angelicia will soon complete a strengths and needs assessment with Karen that will ask specifically about the family life practices (like family routines and regular nighttime reading) we know make a difference to success in school.