Legislation authorizing Head Start--the comprehensive development program for children 0-5 years old--is set to expire Sept. 30 and will soon be under scrutiny by Congress.
Housed in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the program includes Early Head Start for children 3 years old and younger and regular Head Start for preschool children.
In the last reauthorization in 1998, Congress stressed school readiness by emphasizing preliteracy and prenumeracy skills. It also emphasized holding low-performing programs accountable.
This reauthorization may be more controversial than in years past because some policy-makers have proposed moving Head Start to the Department of Education to bolster preliteracy aspects of the program.
Such a move is strongly opposed by many child advocates, who fear the social development aspects of the program would be undermined.
There is also talk of using assessment techniques to evaluate Head Start children's progress on meeting school readiness goals. APA is working with key APA divisions and with policy-makers on Capitol Hill to ensure that the work of psychologists informs this debate.
Dan Dodgen, PhD, is a senior legislative and federal affairs officer in APA's Public Policy Office.