Head Start History by President

President Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)


Office of Economic Opportunity makes first grants to Community Action Agencies.
Lyndon Johnson elected President.
President Johnson declares "War on Poverty" in his State of the Union Message.
Sergeant Shriver named head of War on Poverty program by President Johnson. He convenes first task force meeting to plan legislation.
Economic Opportunity Act passes Senate and House and is signed into law.
Sergeant Shriver asks Dr. Robert Cooke, pediatrician at Johns Hopkins University, to head a steering committee of specialists in all fields to discuss what should be done for young children.


Steering Committee convenes at the White House led by Mrs. Lyndon Johnson and Sergeant Shriver.
Recommendations for the Head Start Program are issued by the Planning Committee in the Cooke Memorandum.
OEO Memo from Jules Sugarman announces initiation of Project Head Start.
President Lyndon B. Johnson officially announces the Head Start Program in the White House Rose Garden.
Head Start is launched, serving over 560,000 children and families across America in an eight-week summer program.
American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start programs also begin in 1965 with 43 grantees in 14 states.


Economic opportunity Act is amended, requiring the Office of Economic Opportunity to operate a Head Start Program.


Head Start begins funding a program that will eventually be called Sesame Street. It is a Carnegie Corporation Preschool Television Show.

Richard M. Nixon (1969-1974)


Head Start is transferred from the Office of Economic Opportunity to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and becomes a part of HEW's Office of Child Development.


Economic Opportunity Act is amended, calling for expansion of Head Start program opportunities for handicapped children. The legislation mandates that at least 10 percent of the national enrollment of Head Start consist of handicapped children.


Head Start home-based program option is added.

President Gerald R. Ford (1974-1977)


Total number of children served since 1965 reaches 5,300,000.


Head Start Program Performance Standards are issued.

President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)


Bilingual and bicultural Head Start Migrant programs serve 6,000 children in twenty-one states.


Nearly 43,000 children and families are added during a major expansion of Head Start.

President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)


Head Start budget exceeds the one billion mark and the number of children served since the beginning reaches 9,144,990.

President George Bush (1989-1993)


Head Start funding is increased by $600 million. This additional funding extends services to another 180,000 children and families.

President William J. Clinton (1993-2001)


First Early Head Start grants are awarded to provide services for children birth to age three and pregnant women.


First Major revision of the Head Start Program Performance Standards is issued.


Head Start Reauthorization Act includes mandate to expand full day, full-year services.


Head Start celebrates 35th Anniversary and marks five-year period of significant expansion in services to children and families.

President George W. Bush (2001-2009)

President Barack Obama (2009-Present)

Contact us to learn more about the history of the Head Start program.