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In 2002, Head Start served 902,653 children, including over 62,000 infants and toddlers in Early Head Start.


  • Ethnicity of Head Start children: 32% Black or African American; 30% Hispanic or Latino; 28% White; 3% American Indian or Alaskan Native; 2% Asian; 1% Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
  • Primary language of Head Start children: 74% English; 21% Spanish; 1% Asian languages; 0.3% Native American languages; 3% other.
  • Parent education levels: 45% high school graduate or GED; 33% less than high school graduate; 18% some college, vocational, or associate’s degree; 4% advanced degree.

Child Services – In addition to its academic curriculum, Head Start provides an array of comprehensive services to children, including health and mental health services, that are critical to children arriving at school ready to succeed.  Below are some examples of services provided in 2002.

  • 869,434 children (89%) received medical screenings and 24% were diagnosed as needing treatment.
  • More than 47,000 children received services for asthma
  • More than 21,000 children received treatment for anemia; 
  • More than 20,000 children received treatment for hearing difficulties; 
  • More than 25,000 received treatment for vision problems; 
  • More than 39,000 children received services for problems with being overweight.
  • 78% of children completed dental exams
  • 93% of children received immunizations
  • 13% of children were determined to have a disability, half of whom were diagnosed during the program.
  • The most common disability was speech or language impairments, with over 71,000 children demonstrating speech or language impairments.
  • 93% of children with disabilities received special services
  • Average number of hours mental health professionals spend on site at programs – 88/month

Parent Services – Head Start prioritizes parent involvement and services because parents are children’s most important and influential teachers and therefore central to quality early education.  Below are some examples of parent services provided in 2002.

  • Over 867,000 Head Start parents volunteered in their local program.
  • 32% of parents (over 296,000) received parenting education through program services and referrals.
  • Over 246,000 parents received health education through program services and referrals.
  • More than 95,000 parents received adult education through program services and referrals.
  • More than 69,000 parents received mental health services through program services and referrals.
  • More than 49,000 parents receive ESL training through program services and referrals.
  • More than 133,000 Head Start fathers participated in organized regularly scheduled activities designed to involve them in Head Start and Early Head Start programs.
Contact Info: 

For Immediate Release: 
July 16, 2003