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DAVID PARDO, DAILY PRESS
VVC HEAD START: The Head Start program at the Victor Valley College Child Development Center is one of seven centers in the Victor Valley. An evaluation by Department of Health and Human Services shows the $8 billion program had little to no impact on participants in language skills, literacy and math skills.

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Failing grade for Head Start

Report: $8 billion program has little impact

High Desert parents may think twice about enrolling their child into a Head Start program after a study from the Department of Health and Human Services revealed that the taxpayer funded program is not working to help preschoolers.

After tracking 5,000 children through the third grade, the study showed the $8 billion program had little to no impact on social, emotional, cognitive, health or parenting practices of families, and that the Head Start program actually had harmful effects on children.

The program failed to raise the cognitive abilities of participants in nearly 40 areas, including language skills, literacy, math skills, and school performance of the participating children.

Nonparticipating children were more prepared in math skills than those who were enrolled in Head Start, according to surveyed teachers.

There are seven Head Start Centers in the Victor Valley, with a California count of 111,561 students, according to a 2011 report from the Office of Head Start.

After 48 years and $180 billion dollars, Head Start critics have suggested that it’s time to overhaul the program and put the $7,000 a child price tag to better educational use.

Supporters of the program suggest the recent type of testing isn’t extensive enough, and results of the program may not appear until the child is older.

The survey results may hamper $100 million in additional Head Start funding, which is earmarked as part of a supplemental aid package to Hurricane Sandy victims, which Congress is set to approve.

Established in 1965, Head Start promotes school readiness for children in low-income families by offering educational, nutritional, health, social, and other services.

Results of the congressionally mandated evaluation, which was completed in 2008, were finally published four years later, in October 2012, but not released until December. The full report can be read online at www.acf.hhs.gov.

By the numbers

Total Head Start Enrollment: 111,561

Number of Paid staff: 25,804

Number of volunteers: 116,817

Age of Actual Enrollment

Children 0-1 year old: 3.9%

Children 1 year old: 5.4%

Children 2 years old: 7.1%

Children 3 years old: 28.1%

Children 4 years old: 51.3%

Children 5 years old: 2.6%

Ethnic Composition

Hispanic or Latino: 72.9%

Non-Hispanic/Non-Latino: 27.1%

Racial Composition

Native American: 4.8%

Asian: 4.5%

Black: 8.8%

Pacific Islander/Other: 0.5%

White: 44.7%

Biracial or Multiracial: 3.9%

Other Race: 24.3%

Unspecified Race: 8.5%

Average Annual Teacher Salary

AA Degree: $32,264

BA Degree: $34,794

Medical Screenings

Overweight: 73.3%

Asthma: 34.9%

Anemia: 27.0%

Vision Problems: 18.1%

Hearing Difficulties: 5.2%

High Lead Levels: 0.7%

Diabetes: 0.2%

Source: California Head Start Association

Rene De La Cruz may be reached at (760) 951-6227 or at RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com.

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