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Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES): What are we learning about program quality and child development?

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Children and Families (Winter Issue 2003)
McKey, Ruth Hubbell
government document
Publication Date: 
1 Jan 2003

Excerpts from paper:

Every day Head Start staff and parents see the benefits of Head Start to young children; however, policymakers and administrators need systematic evidence of Head Start's value. They also want objective evaluations of the quality of Head Start services. This need for accountability has been addressed by Head Start in recent years through the development of the Head Start Program Performance Measures and research on the quality and effects of Head Start. At the center of this research initiative is the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES).

Begun in 1997, FACES is a way to look at the program performance of Head Start and its children over time. It began with a stratified national probability sample of 40 programs and 3,200 children who were followed from the time they entered Head Start at ages 3 or 4 through first grade. In 2000, a second group of 43 different programs and 2,800 children was selected for study.

Because data are now available on the 1997 and the 2000 groups of children, we can look at how the program and children are changing over time. Is the quality of Head Start improving? Are children learning more now than just a few years ago? Are they progressing in certain areas of development but not in others?

As we continue to explore the changes in Head Start programs and children from 1997 to 2000 and beyond, we will be able to provide program staff, parents, administrators, and policymakers with additional insight into the quality of programs and changes that are needed to enhance that quality. We will also obtain additional information about the development of children in key domains and the progress that is being made over time to enhance those skills even further so that children will leave Head Start ready to learn and succeed in school.