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Head Start History Basics

On-Demand • Online • 2 PD Hours

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Head Start Basics Series:

Head Start is the most important social and educational investment in children, families, and communities the United States has ever undertaken. Dive into the program’s rich history in this short two-hour course.


Head Start is the most important social and educational investment in children, families, and communities the United States has ever undertaken. The Head Start Project launched in 1965 as a comprehensive child development program. Over the last six decades, it has provided a window of opportunity to more than 37 million children and their families.

Designed to help break the cycle of poverty, Project Head Start provided preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional, and psychological needs and support the families raising them. It was envisioned as an eight-week summer program staffed by volunteers and the plan was to open the doors to a few thousand children nationwide. More than 561,000 children showed up.

Head Start’s rich history is something all staff who work in the program should understand. Learners who complete this course will gain a full understanding of Head Start and Early Head Start’s history, why they were founded, and their importance for vulnerable children and families in the U.S.

Date: Available on-demand

Course Level: Beginner

Requirements/Prerequisites: None

Target Audience: Instruction and Effective Practice, Leadership and Management, Parents and Families, Program Operations, Support Services

Course Meeting Times: None

Completion Timeline/Duration: One Month

Alignment with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF): This course supports programs in meeting the 1301.5, 1302.92 Training and professional development requirements of the Head Start Program Performance Standards.

Course Outline

Module Topics: 

  • Explore the foundation of Head Start
  • Explore the enduring values of Head Start
  • Define equity as it relates to early learning
  • Define early learning policies

Learning Objective:

  • Learners will understand the early history of Head Start, why it was established in 1965, and the enduring values at the core of the program.
  • Learners learn about the architects of Project Head Start, who was responsible for initiating Head Start, and how the program has grown over the last six decades

Course Author

Dr. Deborah Bergeron

Dr. Deborah Bergeron

Dr. B served as director of the Office of Head Start from 2018-21. From 2019-21 she broadened her leadership as director of the Office of Early Childhood Development in the Administration for Children and Families. Known as "Dr. B" to former students and teachers, she spent three decades in pre-K–12 public education as a classroom teacher and school administrator. She currently serves as deputy director for Community Engagement and Innovation at the National Head Start Association.

Available exclusively on


  • Online, Self Paced Content
  • 2 Hours of Course Material
  • Video Content
  • 45 Days of Access to Online Course
  • Digital Badge
  • Certificate of Completion with Professional Development Hours
  • 24/7 Access to Transcript

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