Issue Brief

No. 789

Reauthorizing Head Start: The Future Federal Role in Preschool Programs for the Poor
April 11, 2003


Jane Koppelman, Consultant


This paper describes the implications of President Bush’s proposal to devolve authority for running the Head Start program to the states and to alter the organization and funding of all government early childhood programs—with the goal of improving the school readiness skills of low-income children. The administration plan to allow states to mix Head Start funds with state-funded preschool money and, if desired, child care monies to create a more uniform early childhood care system with an educational focus raises numerous questions. This paper addresses questions raised by this plan, including the potential quality of these new systems, the extent to which the programs will offer health and family support services (as Head Start now does), the capacity of states to administer large-scale preschool systems, and the prospects for adequate funding of new systems, given state budget deficits and demands for providing more child care for low-income working parents.

Related Materials

See also the entry for the related Forum Session.

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