Celebrating the Launch of Head Start: May 18, 1965

Blanca Enriquez

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 the program 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.

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 lifes work is 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. We at Head Start have not only 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 Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) website.

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 will join in our celebrations with the Head Start programs 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 is the Director at the Office of Head Start.

Celebrating the Launch of Head Start: May 18, 1965. HHS/ACF/OHS. 2015. English.

Last Updated: March 2, 2016