23 Feb Getting a Head Start

Getting a Head Start


Dr. Edmund Gordon is a renowned Black psychologist known for his work improving early childhood education. As one of the founders of the Head Start program, he has dedicated much of his life to fighting inequities in education and ensuring that all kids have access to quality education starting at a young age. At 101 years old, Dr. Gordon continues to advocate for the importance of early education and equity in our systems.


Addressing Systemic Issues

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson launched a “War on Poverty” introducing federal programs and policies to create a more equitable and just country. Quality education for all kids was one of President Johnson’s priorities, leading him to hire a panel of experts to create a program that would provide early childhood education and family services to low-income families. As a member of the panel, Dr. Gordon envisioned a program that would not only provide quality education but also address societal barriers to success, like poverty, systemic racism, and segregation. Along with his colleagues, Dr. Gordon designed Head Start to help break the cycle of poverty with comprehensive, culturally responsive, and community-focused programming. He was specially positioned to create the Head Start program due to his years of research on the achievement gap and how to address it. Much of Dr. Gordon’s work focused on children of color and kids from low-income families, and how quality public education plays an important role in breaking the cycle of poverty.


Head Start Today

Dr. Gordon’s research and work laid the groundwork for today’s social-emotional learning principles. Head Start programs support “children’s growth from birth to age five through services that support early learning and development, health, and family well-being” and serve about one million children annually. The value of Head Start cannot be overstated. The program provides developmentally appropriate activities for kids, connects families to resources, and helps ensure all families have access to medical care, adequate housing, and more. 

In 2022 …

576,110 families received support services 

4,513,418 home visits were conducted

51,809 Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms

205,447 kids were enrolled in health insurance

ReadyKids’ STAR Kids program visits Head Start classrooms to promote social and emotional health by teaching problem-solving and self-regulation skills. Click here to learn more about STAR Kids. 

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