College Grads, Young Moms, Big Bucks, State Reps and Racial Composition: Evaluating the Impact of Social, Political and Economic Factors on State-Level Head Start Uptake Rates
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The Head Start Program aims to equip pre-school age children from low-income families with the social, academic and emotional development that is essential upon entry to Kindergarten. While much research and debate exists about whether or not Head Start instills students with a lifelong advantage, research has consistently shown that short-term benefits follow Head Start graduates into elementary school. Despite evidence that Head Start participation gives students an advantage over non-preschooled peers, the uptake rate for this program remains low at the national level and a large disparity exists between state-level uptake rates. Previous Head Start-related research has neglected to explore why some states boast program uptake rates that exceed fifty percent while Head Start Programs in other states have uptake rates that languish in the single digits. In the present study, I will make an effort to identify social, political and economic factors that influence state-level Head Start uptake rates. Using a dataset that spans ten years and includes eleven variables such as resident education level, Head Start funding and race-based population percentage, I will examine how each factor effects state-level Head Start uptake rates. This study is innovative in several ways. First, it explores how a variety of state-level factors play into the rate at which eligible students enroll in the Head Start Program. Whereas the major focus of previous research has identified academic advantages of being a Head Start graduate, the first step to securing these benefits is the parental decision to enroll an eligible child into the program. Secondly, my research will examine factors that explain the great state-level disparity in Head Start uptake rates. By identifying one set of traits that are common amongst high-uptake states as well as another set that is common amongst low-uptake states, my goal is two-fold: to offer details that about factors that enhance Head Start uptake rates as well as a set of guidelines that could be used to predict which states are likely to incur low uptake rates in future years so that these states can be targeted for increased recruitment and enrollment support.
Allison, Angela N (2013). College Grads, Young Moms, Big Bucks, State Reps and Racial Composition: Evaluating the Impact of Social, Political and Economic Factors on State-Level Head Start Uptake Rates. Honors and Undergraduate Research. Available electronically from