New study shows children in Head Start programs are 93% less likely to end up in foster care


New research by Dr. Sacha Klein with Michigan State University shows an advantage for children in Head Start programs, who are also within the welfare system due to abuse or neglect.

“Children who had experience in early head start program were 93% less likely to end up in foster care.”

Her study focused on kids entering the child welfare system, and specifically, the odds of them ending up in foster care 18-months later from roughly three different groups:

Kids involved with Head Start, kids attending another form of preschool or child-care, and kids receiving no child-care at all. Klein says the results were clear.

“You get more consistency when you’re looking at head start. There are performance standards set by the federal government so there are minimums around quality, minimums around the types of services being provided, including services for parents.”

Making sure parents are involved may be the key as to why Head Start programs keep families together. Klein’s study didn’t answer why 93% of kids involved with Head Start didn’t end up in a foster home, but Head Start programs are known for making sure parents are involved.

Since 1965, Head Start programs have helped kids 5 and under living in poverty get exactly what the name implies according to CACS Head Start program director Mary Farrand, but says is doesn’t work without getting parents to be a part of the process.

“Parenting is stressful, and we have people who can come alongside to help them get support during hard times.”

Like having social workers connect parents to needed resources in the community, by offering a parenting curriculum to help better support their kids, and providing ways to further a parents education.

“We don’t want to take the parents place,” says Farrand, “We just want to help them be better equipped to take care of their families and support their children both physically and academically.”

Two important factors helping a child’s chances of staying with their mom and dad after turmoil turn successful.

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