University Research Finds Black Parents Benefit When Their Children Are in Head Start

Nwestern logoMany studies have shown how children who participate in the federal government’s Head Start program do better in school than children with similar socio-economic backgrounds who were not part of the program. But now a new study by researchers at Northwestern University shows that the parents of children who participate in Head Start also do better.

The study, led by Terri Sabol, an assistant professor of human development and social policy at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, finds that parents who started their children in Head Start at age three had higher levels of educational attainment by the time their children were age 6 compared to parents in a control group whose children did not enroll in Head Start. The effect was particularly significant for African American parents whose children were enrolled in Head Start.

The authors speculate that Head Start may help parents manage their work-school-family responsibilities by providing an affordable, safe place to send their children while they work or attend school. Dr. Sabol added that “Head Start may provide the ideal place to promote parent’s education via a network of parents and staff, in addition to information and referrals to postsecondary educational opportunities.”

The paper, “The Influence of Low-Income Children’s Participation in Head Start on Their Parents’s Education and Employment,” was coauthored by P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, the Frances Willard Professor of Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern. The article was published on the website of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. It may be accessed here.

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