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How free preschool may help poor kids when they become parents


August 24, 2016
AccessEconomics and Finance
Emily Badger
The Washington Post

The first children of Head Start are old enough now to have children of their own. They’ve moved through high school — if they were able to get that far — and some much farther than that. They’ve entered the workforce and formed their own families.

That means it’s increasingly possible to track the long-term effects of a federal program, created in the mid-1960s, that sought to give 3- and 4-year-olds from struggling families an early lift out of poverty.

A new analysis from the Hamilton Project suggests that their lives today are measurably better in some important ways than those of poor children who never enrolled in the program. Their chances of finishing high school, attending college and earning postsecondary degrees or certificates were higher.

As adults, blacks in particular rated better on indicators of noncognitive skills such as planning and problem-solving. And as parents, the children of Head Start appear to invest more in their own children, suggesting that years after the government’s initial investment, the program could indirectly touch a second generation.