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NAEYC Week of the Young Child logo

Head Start Celebrates 50 Years!

Research on child development in the last decades has been loud and clear about the need for a comprehensive and two-generation approach to promoting children’s learning and well-being. Programs that support children’s learning strengthen the different domains of children’s development as well as the various environments in which children’s lives occur, including the family, school, and community.

As we celebrate the Week of the Young Child, we also highlight Head Start's 50th anniversary as an exemplary comprehensive and two-generation effort. A decade ago, in an interview with Harvard Family Research Project, Edward Zigler, one of the principal architects of Head Start, put it this way: “The original planners of Head Start created a comprehensive set of services for young children that encompassed physical and mental health, nutrition, education, and social services, and included a strong parent involvement component.”

Evidence of this commitment to comprehensive supports is the fact that, in the last five years, the Office of Head Start has created seven National Centers that offer high-quality, multi-layered technical assistance to staff and families of young children. These Head Start National Centers attend to the multiple settings in which a child develops: the classroom, the program, the family, the neighborhood, the community, and the culture. The National Centers also address the growth and well-being of parents and family members who care for children by providing a sustained two-generation approach to the services they offer.

We are sharing our choice picks from the vast collection of resources that these National Centers have produced. Although specifically developed for Head Start and Early Head Start programs, the resources apply to other early education programs seeking to improve their overall quality in the context of children’s multiple environments.

National Center on Health

Featured Resource: Low Literacy Health Education Materials for Parents and Staff
This series of pamphlets focuses on topics that pertain to physical health, such as lead awareness, home safety, and injury prevention. Mental health topics include stress management, parental depression, and positive disciplining. 

National Center on Culture and Linguistic Responsiveness

Featured Resource: The Importance of Home Language
This series of handouts is intended for staff and families of dual language learners. The handouts provide basic information on topics related to learning two or more languages. These handouts also highlight the benefits of being bilingual and the value of maintaining home language.

National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement 

Featured Resource: Engaging Families in the Transition to Kindergarten
This video provides concrete strategies to support children and their families as they transition into kindergarten. It highlights the important role that developing strong partnerships between families, programs, and schools play in making this important transition successful.
(Note: Harvard Family Research Project is a partner with Brazelton Touchpoints Center at Boston Children’s Hospital to run the National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement.)

National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning

Featured Resource: Classroom-Based and Parent-Focused Interventions for Promoting Social and Emotional Competence in Young Children
This video provides compelling classroom and at-home strategies and approaches for supporting young children’s social and emotional competencies.  

Early Head Start National Resource Center
Featured Resource: Engaging Families Using Motivational Interviewing Strategies & Principles
This webinar explains Motivational Interviewing, an approach to establishing collaborative conversations to enhance people’s incentive to change. This resource provides Motivational Interviewing techniques and their use in family engagement work.

National Center on Program Operations and Fiscal Management

Featured Resource: Data in Head Start and Early Head Start: Creating a Culture That Embraces Data
This interactive learning module offers a rich variety of tools to assist programs in developing a culture that appreciates the value of data. This module also supports the development of specific skills to use data effectively for program improvement.

National Center on Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships

Featured Resource: Effective Child Care and Early Head Start Collaborations That Promote High-Quality Comprehensive Care: Part One
This is Part One of a two-part webinar that focuses on effective agency collaboration in order to improve education services for young children. Part One, in particular, elaborates on the establishment of collaborative partnerships at the state and local levels.

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Published by Harvard Family Research Project