Leading the Way for 50 Years


As we enter 2015, we are fortunate to reflect on the 50th year of Head Start services. In May of 1965, the first Head Start summer programs began. These programs provided the most vulnerable preschool children and their families with comprehensive services to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional, and mental health needs.

Many of the things that were true in the early days are still true today:

"Project Head Start from its inception was conceived to be a program developed by local communities to meet local needs. The Office of Economic Opportunity intends that it be a flexible program allowing for, and stimulating, original ideas and innovating approaches in the War Against Poverty. While experience gained so far has shown us what basic ingredients are needed to formulate a good Head Start program, we want to encourage creativity as long as the comprehensive nature of the program is maintained."

How to Apply for Head Start Child Development Programs, Community Action Program, Office of Economic Opportunity, September 1966

Even so, Head Start continues to evolve. We seek and implement evidence-based practices, and hold programs accountable to high standards of quality. We’ve increased our emphasis on continuums of care, and support the changing landscape of Head Start agencies.

We at the Office of Head Start look forward to celebrating this milestone with the Head Start community. We plan to recognize the core values of Head Start throughout the year. Each month we will explore a key theme with videos, blog posts, and stories from the front lines. Our celebrations will culminate in a live/virtual event in October. Local programs are invited to tune in to our broadcast, while celebrating with your local community. I hope you take time to celebrate Head Start with your agency and community, recognizing our heritage and our future as we continue to lead the way for children and families.

Visit the 50th anniversary page for more videos, pictures, and stories.

Ann Linehan is the Acting Director at the Office of Head Start.

Leading the Way for 50 Years. HHS/ACF/OHS. 2015. English.

Last Reviewed: January 2015

Last Updated: February 26, 2015