Celebrating the Launch of Head Start: May 18, 1965

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Publication Date
May 27, 2015

Ed. Note: This is a repost from the ACF Family Room Blog. View the original post here.

Built by visionaries who sought to open avenues of opportunity for families most in need, Head Start continues to be at the forefront of transformation and innovation. As Head Start celebrates the historic 50 year milestone, it is my great pleasure to serve as the director of the Office of Head Start- to help create the vision, and lead the visionaries who will take us to our 100th Anniversary.

The life of an organization can be described in definite stages. An organization is born, it grows, it matures, and if it doesn’t remain vibrant, will decline.  As I review the timeline of Head Start accomplishments, I see how Head Start has grown from a good idea, through growing pains and growth spurts to the place it is today.

Looking back over our history, Head Start has been fortunate in the deep support we have been given in many different areas.  Parents and community members have always been vocal supporters. They have been advocates for the program in their communities, at the state level, and in Congress.  Congress in response has continued to expand Head Start. But they also have held us to ever-higher standards.

A vintage photo of a Head Start teacher with a group of children. Decades ago we began developing the foundations for adults who are now leading and making significantly positive impacts in our country. Every Head Start program in every state has alumni who are repaying the investment Head Start made in them. Some are anesthesiologists, others are carpenters, lawyers, and other contributing members of society.

Our life work is also present in the positive relationships parents have formed with their children. The work also lives on in the contributions to the field of early childhood education that impacts all children.  Head Start has not only have faced the many challenges before us, we have surmounted them.   We will continue to lead the charge of quality early childhood care and education for our children and families by maximizing our position as leaders and partners.

I encourage you to look over the timeline celebrating 50 years of Head Start history on the ECLKC website.

Photo of Head Start children from the very start of the program, learning to prepare corn for a meal.Throughout 2015 we are reflecting on, and celebrating, five key themes:

  1. Head Start is a Community Effort. Community partners are essential for success.
  2. Families are Powerful Partners. Parents are lifelong educators, nurturers and advocates of their children.
  3. Staff are the Heart of Head Start. We transformed the teaching of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers into a profession.
  4. Staff, Children and Families are Rooted in Culture. Community diversities are integral and reflected in our Head Start programs.
  5. 32 Million Reasons to be Proud. Head Start and Early Head Start have prepared 32 million children for school and life.

We hope you join in our celebrations with Head Start in your local community.  On behalf of all children, families, staff and communities we serve, thank you for continuing to help Head Start lead the way for early childhood education.

Dr. Blanca Enriquez, Director, Office of Head Start