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Change Indicator

Head Start enrollment by age group in United States

Head Start enrollment by age group

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Why This Indicator Matters

High-quality prekindergarten programs can improve school readiness, with the greatest gains accruing to the highest-risk children. Head Start and the expansion of state-funded programs since the 1990s have greatly increased access to preschool. But many children, especially 3-year-olds, continue to be left out, exacerbating socioeconomic differences in educational achievement.
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Definition and Source



Number of children enrolled for any period of the year in any of the Head Start programs, by age group.

Total enrollment includes children in all three programs: Head Start, Early Head Start, and Migrant/Seasonal Head Start. Pregnant women are included in the “0 to 2” age category.  The Early Head Start program serves children from birth to 3 years of age.  The Head Start program includes children ages 3 to 5 years. Migrant/Seasonal Head Start includes those children from birth to 5 years old whose families earn their income primarily from agricultural work. Migrant families must have changed residence within the last two years; Seasonal families have not changed their residence in the last two years, but temporarily move for work

Data Source

Data from the annual Program Information Report (PIR), administered by the Office of Head Start (OHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The PIR data are compiled for use at the federal, regional, and local levels. The PIR provides comprehensive data on the services, staff, children, and families served by over 2,500 Head Start and Early Head Start programs nationwide. All grantees and delegates are required to submit Program Information Reports for each Head Start or Early Head Start program operated.


Data for Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands are not available after 2013.

Last Updated

January 2024