Edward Zigler, PhD, best known as the father of Head Start, will receive the association's most prestigious honor: the APA Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to Psychology.
"There are very few psychologists whose work has made such a difference as his," says APA President Alan E. Kazdin, PhD, who selected Zigler for the award.
Head Start has provided educational, health, nutritional and social services to more than 24 million low-income children since its inception in 1965. The Yale-based psychologist has worked tirelessly to keep the program funded, while not shying away from criticizing substandard centers. Zigler also helped plan the Early Head Start program and conceptualized and implemented the national Child Development Associate credential for child-care providers.
In 1988, he established "Schools for the 21st Century," a program in which public schools--in conjunction with state governments and private foundations--provide after-school programs and year-round child care. So far, the model has been adopted by 1,300 elementary and middle schools in 20 states.
Advocacy on this level could easily have been Zigler's full-time job, but during his 50-year psychology career, he's also made major research strides in the study of child development, mental retardation and adult psychopathology--authoring, co-authoring or editing 38 books and more than 800 other scholarly publications.
In what may be his longest-lasting legacy, Zigler founded and directed Yale's Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy, which has trained hundreds of scholars to conduct and apply research that addresses pressing child and family social policy questions.
Zigler, now 78, has barely slowed down. He regularly consults with congressional members and their staffs, state governors and legislatures on child development issues. He is currently advocating for universal preschool education and evolving the Family and Medical Leave Act, which he helped create, from an unpaid parental leave to a paid leave.
"I am still busier than an old codger ought to be, but it is work I love doing, so I do it," he says.
Zigler will receive the award at APA's 2008 Annual Convention in Boston.