Explore current Head Start research and evaluation projects from the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE). Each project page includes a description of the project and links to related reports and other resources.
Find additional current and completed projects in the Head Start and Early Head Start section of OPRE's research library. New, featured resources and the Head Start research and evaluation agenda are also located in this library.
Head Start FACES
Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) provides descriptive, nationally representative information on the characteristics, experiences, and development of Head Start children and families, and the characteristics of the Head Start programs and staff who serve them. This research project has operated continuously since 1997.
Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Study (Baby FACES) continues a series of ongoing descriptive studies aimed at maintaining an up-to-date, extensive knowledge base to support Early Head Start policies and programs. Building on the findings from a previous endeavor and similar in design to the Head Start FACES, Baby FACES aims to inform program planning, technical assistance, and research at the national level.
American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (AIAN FACES) was designed to fill in an information gap. In its initial years, the Head Start FACES study did not include Region XI, whose programs are designed to serve predominantly AIAN children and families. AIAN FACES was first fielded in 2015 and a second cohort was fielded in 2019.
Child and Family Data
Child and Family Data Archive (CFData), 2018–2023, hosts more than 300 datasets on young children, their families and communities, and the programs that serve them. Data is obtained from research on a wide range of early care and education (ECE) topics that is conducted in a variety of settings, including child care, Head Start, and home visiting programs. CFData facilitates data sharing between OPRE-supported grants and research projects. It also supports the sharing of datasets in other ECE-relevant fields, such as economic self-sufficiency, welfare, and employment.
Culture of Continuous Learning
Culture of Continuous Learning (CCL) Project: A Breakthrough Series Collaborative for Improving Child Care and Head Start Quality, 2016–2021, explores how child care and Head Start programs can improve the quality of their services. It assesses the implementation of the Breakthrough Series Collaborative, an approach to continuous quality improvement that promotes the uptake and success of evidence-based practices around social and emotional learning in child care and Head Start settings.
Head Start University Partnership Grants: Dual-Generation Approaches, 2013-2019, had researchers working in partnership with one or more Head Start programs to implement and evaluate promising dual-generation approaches. These combine intensive, high-quality, child-focused programs with intensive, high-quality, adult-focused services to support both parent well-being and children’s school readiness.
Implementation and Cost
Assessing the Implementation and Cost of High Quality Early Care and Education Project (ECE-ICHQ), 2014–2021, identifies measures of implementation and costs of education and care in center-based settings that serve children birth to age 5. These measures may be combined with existing quality measures to evaluate how quality features and practices are supported and implemented within a center, how much the services cost, and how resources are allocated within a center.
Infants and Toddlers
Network of Infant Toddler Researchers (NitR) is a consortium that brings together leading applied researchers with policymakers and technical assistance providers responsible for overseeing and supporting early childhood programs serving families during pregnancy and the first three years of life. NitR members collaborate and coordinate on research-informed practice and practice-informed research. Research is conducted with programs that offer child care, home visiting, Early Head Start, and child welfare services.
Migrant and Seasonal
Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) and the National Agricultural Workers’ Survey (NAWS), 2009–2021, collects demographic, employment, and health characteristics of the U.S. crop labor force. First established in 1988, NAWS collects data on work histories and tasks, as well as health and household information. An MSHS Supplement to the NAWS was conducted from 2009 to 2016. It asked questions regarding farmworkers' child care preference and knowledge of the MSHS program. The NAWS team also provides periodic analyses of demographic data on MSHS-eligible families.
Policy and Research
Child Care and Early Education Policy and Research Analysis (CCEEPRA) Project, 2005–2025, provides expert advice, assistance, and consultation in support of OPRE’s research priorities and goals. Project activities include: conducting assessment, analyses, and summaries of policies, practices, and research; conducting studies to inform policy and practice and the development of new research priorities; and identifying and refining data collection measures and instruments.
Quality Children’s Care
Variations in Implementation of Quality Interventions: Examining the Quality-Child Outcomes Relationship in Child Care and Early Education (VIQI) 2016–2021, seeks to determine which aspects of quality matter most. It looks at what levels of quality are essential for promoting children’s development. It also establishes how quality enhancement efforts should be designed in order to reliably promote children’s developmental outcomes, particularly in light of the varied national landscape of child care, Head Start, and early care and education programs.
Touchpoints for Addressing Substance Use Issues in Home Visiting, 2017–2021, generates knowledge about how home visiting programs engage and support families around prevention, treatment, and recovery from substance misuse. It identifies evidence-based practices for working with families, supporting frontline staff, and building collaborations with referral sources.
We Grow Together
Professional Development Tools to Improve the Quality of Infant & Toddler Care (Q-CCIIT PD Tools), 2015–2022, are components of a web-based professional development system called We Grow Together. The objective is to help teachers and caregivers support children’s social, emotional, language and literacy, and cognitive development. Resources include an observation tool, training videos, materials, and exercises. They are designed for use in Early Head Start, family child care, and community-based child care settings.
Last Updated: May 20, 2022