East Boston Head Start program was well represented as Head Start centers from across the city celebrated the program’s 46th anniversary.
Children and Staff from Eastie’s Head Start, run by Action for Boston Community Development’s (ABCD) APAC office on Meridian Street, took part in the celebration on the Boston Common and were among 29 ABCD Head Start centers from across Boston that came together for a day of face painting, music, dancing, games and speeches by local officials and celebrities.
ABCD Head Start and Children’s Services is a comprehensive family development program that serves pregnant women, children from birth to age five, and their families at three sites in Eastie. Its child-focused programs are committed to providing opportunities and services to the diverse, low-income children and families in Eastie through school readiness, self-sufficiency and success in life.
Both Head Start and ABCD have a long history of serving families in Boston with programs to improve and enrich their lives and wellbeing. ABCD was incorporated in 1962, prior to the national War on Poverty, as a “Gray Areas Project.” Its original mandate was to promote self-help for people and neighborhoods. Today, ABCD is known as Boston’s anti-poverty agency, and is the largest independent, private, non-profit human services agency in New England.
Launched in 1965 by its creator and first director, Julie Sugarman, Head Start was originally conceived as a catch-up summer school program that would teach low-income children in a few weeks what they needed to know to start kindergarten.
Experience showed that six weeks of preschool couldn’t make up for five years of poverty.
The Head Start Act of 1981 expanded the program and more than 22 million pre-school aged children had participated.
According to the 31 studies conducted over the years on Head Start, the program showed immediate improvement in the IQ scores of participating children, though non-participants narrowed the difference over time. Adults who had attended Head Start were significantly more likely to complete high school, attend college, and possibly have higher earnings in their early twenties than their non-participant siblings. African American adults who had attended Head Start were significantly less likely to be booked or charged for a crime than were their non-participant siblings. Head Start may increase the likelihood that African American males graduate from high school. In addition, the authors noted larger effects for younger siblings who attended Head Start after an older siblings.
Head Start is associated with large and significant gains in test scores and has shown to significantly reduces the probability that a child will repeat a grade.