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Once Sacred Head Started Fighting for its Life

by Roger Neugebauer
January/February 1996
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/once-sacred-head-start-fighting-for-its-life/5010733/

John F. Kennedy. Ronald Reagan. George Bush. Bill Clinton. No other federal program can claim the support of these four presidents as can Head Start. Until this year, Head Start enjoyed unprecedented bipartisan support. With the election of the new Congress, however, it appeared the love affair was over. Republican legislators proposed turning over Head Start monies to the states in the form of a block grant. Fearing this would be a death blow, Head Start parents and advocates across the nation launched an ambitious and ultimately successful campaign to maintain Head Start's unique status.

Advocates are now gearing up for the next round of budget battles.

A Look at the Numbers

The battle for survival ironically took place during Head Start's 30th anniversary. Launched by John F. Kennedy in 1965, Head Start has grown steadily as their Congressional appropriations attest:

1965 $ 96,000,000
1970 326,000,000
1975 404,000,000
1980 735,000,000
1985 1,075,000,000
1990 1,552,000,000
1995 3,535,000,000

Enrollment has grown also, but not steadily. In 1966, 733,000 children were enrolled, but enrollment dropped to as low of 333,000 in 1977, and has grown slowly back up to 750,000 in 1995. Enrollments have not increased as dramatically as funding due primarily to the fact that children are being ...

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