A History of Head Start and Shasta Head Start

Shasta County Head Start was one of the original Head Start grantees back in 1965. Throughout the years Shasta Head Start has grown to meet the needs of our community by offering, center based, home visiting, and family childcare Head Start programs.

The History of the Head Start Program

In January of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared The War on Poverty in his State of the Union speech. Shortly thereafter, Sargent Shriver took the lead in assembling a panel of experts to develop a comprehensive child development program that would help communities meet the needs of disadvantaged preschool children. Among these experts were Dr. Robert Cooke, a pediatrician at John Hopkins University, and Dr. Edward Zigler, a professor of psychology and director of the Child Study Center at Yale University.

Part of the government’s thinking on poverty was influenced by new research on the effects of poverty, as well as on the impacts of education. This research indicated an obligation to help disadvantaged groups, compensating for inequality in social or economic conditions. The Head Start program was designed to help break the cycle of poverty, providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs. A key tenet of the program established that it be culturally responsive to the communities served, and that the communities have an investment in its success through the contribution of volunteer hours and other donations as nonfederal share.

The Head Start Program Performance Standards were originally published in 1975.  In 1995 the first Early Head Start grants were given.  In 1998, the Head Start program was reauthorized to expand to full-day and full-year services.