The federal Head Start Program was launched in the summer of 1965 as part of the "War on Poverty". It is a comprehensive federally funded social service program aimed at addressing the needs of very low-income families with young children. Since it's inception in 1965, millions of children and families have received child development services through Head Start. Over 1,000,000 children and families receive services annually in the United States.
Locally, in 1965, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors was awarded funding to start a summer program in Castroville serving approximately 100 children and families. Since that time, Head Start has provided comprehensive early education, literacy, nutrition, health, and social services to local families and children.
Seven years later (1972), the Monterey County Office of Education (MCOE) then became the Head Start Grantee serving 300 children countywide. This also marked the year when the National Head Start Program developed the regulation mandating parent involvement.
MCOE’s success at administering the Head Start Program then lead to the awarding of the Early Head Start Program contract in 2001 offering infant and toddler services to 80 children and families from prenatal to three years of age. Early Head Start funding allowed very, young children and pregnant mothers to receive child development services.
From 1965 to 2009, Monterey County Head Start slots have increased from 100 children and families to the current 1,245. During the forty-plus years of service, the Monterey County Head Start Program has successfully reached and educated over 30,000 children and families. This due in part to the support and dedication of schools, community partners, parents, friends, and service providers.