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April 2017Vol. 18, No. 2Findings From the First National Study of Tribal Head Start Programs

The webinar, "Study Progress & Selected Findings From the First National Study of Tribal Head Start Programs," produced by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, discusses the methods, findings, and implications gleaned from the first time Region 11 was included in the Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES). Region 11 primarily comprises American Indian and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) on or near reservations and serves federally recognized programs in 26 States.

Historically, Region 11 Head Start programs operating in Tribal communities were not included in FACES, mainly attributed to Tribal concerns about research in general as well as the unique protocols for research involving sovereign Tribal nations. To close this gap in Head Start data, AI/AN FACES set out to provide Federal, Tribal, and program stakeholders with data they can use to inform policies and practices that address the needs of children and families in Region 11. The data collected from AI/AN FACES can also be used to describe the school readiness skills of children in Region 11 and how they compare to children of similar ages in the general population as well as to other Head Start children in Regions 1 through 10. 

The following are the key features of AI/AN FACES:

  • The survey was a source for national data on Region 11 Head Start programs and not a study of any one program or one Tribal community.
  • The purpose of the survey was primarily descriptive and not meant as a study of the effectiveness of Region 11 programs.
  • Data were collected from children, parents, teachers, program and center directors, and classroom observations.
  • Children participated in a 45-minute, one-on-one direct assessment of their skills in several areas: language, literacy, math, and executive functioning.
  • Parents' data were used to collect information on family, home, community, and Head Start experiences.
  • Data about Head Start staff (i.e., teachers and directors) were used to assess staff background and experience, classroom or program characteristics, and cultural and native-language resources and opportunities.
  • Classroom observations data were used to assess the quality of Head Start classroom and teacher-student interactions as well as children's exposure to Tribal language and culture.

The data garnered from AI/AN FACES found that a majority of families in Region 11 have access to financial resources and are food secure, but many still have needs related to their economic well-being. With regard to psychological well-being, a majority (58 percent) of parents in Region 11 reported that they were not depressed, but a sizeable number reported symptoms of being mildly (24 percent) or moderately (10 percent) depressed. Additionally, a small percentage indicated they are severely depressed. In addition, data show that culture and language—as well as participation in cultural community activities, such as dancing, drumming, and interacting with elders—are important to Head Start families in Region 11. 

To learn more about AI/AN FACES and to view the complete webinar, visit

Related Item

Children's Bureau Express has covered previous rounds of FACES in the following articles: