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May 2012Vol. 13 No. 4Fifth Wave of Data in Head Start Survey

The Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) is a periodic, longitudinal study of children entering Head Start, their families, and the programs and staff that serve them. Five cohorts have been analyzed since the study began in 1997—1997, 2000, 2003, 2006, and 2009—and the study is funded through 2013.

Each round of FACES analysis collects data on children ages 3–4 who enter Head Start for the first time in the fall, their family characteristics, and the characteristics of Head Start staff. Children are assessed, one on one, for school readiness skills in language, literacy, and mathematics. For the 2006 and 2009 surveys, weight and height measurements were added to the data collection. Teachers and parents provide information regarding the child's classroom experience, social skills, health, and more. Parents and teachers also provide information on their own educational attainment, economic background, and other factors.

The latest report highlights data analysis from the 2009 FACES study and provides a comparison of data across cohorts where comparable data were available. Data highlights from the fifth wave of FACES include the following:

  • In 2009, 95 percent of children entering Head Start lived with at least one biological or adoptive parent. The percentage of children who lived with both parents dropped from 48 percent in 2000 to 42 percent in 2009.
  • In 2009, 68 percent of children entering Head Start lived with a parent who had obtained a high school diploma or GED, and 47 percent lived with one parent who worked full time. The percentage of children living in households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits increased from 44 percent in 2000 to 64 percent in 2009.
  • In 2009, 26 percent of children entering Head Start lived in homes where English was not the primary language, compared to 18 percent in 2000. Of those children in 2009, 59 percent were read to in another language, 18 percent did not have children's books written in English, and 14 percent primarily watched TV programs in a language other than English.

An overview of FACES and a data archive, including the latest report, Head Start Children, Families, and Programs: Present and Past Data from FACES, December 2011, are available on the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) website: 

Related Item
OPRE posted the following new reports in March 2012: