The Effects of Head Start on Parenting: A Systematic Literature Review

Julia Alotta, University at Albany, State University of New York


Head Start (HS) is federally funded early childhood development program that provides services, including daycare and parenting classes for low-income families. However, debates exist over its efficacy in improving child development outcomes throughout the child’s life course. This research aimed to review the evidence that Head Start improves parenting skills, which, in turn can foster improved health through a systematic review of recent empirical literature on Head Start and parenting. The study identified nine studies measuring the impact of parental involvement in HS on child outcomes. After reviewing these articles, we conclude that the HS program allows for parents to become more engaged in additional parent child activities such as parent child play, reading bedtime routines, reading daily, and reading frequency finding an overall positive effect of the program.