From a categorical perspective, children who live in poverty tend to perform worse in school than do children from privileged and nurtured backgrounds. In the early 1900s, researchers leaned towards biology and maturation as their main lens of child development claimed that these differences were caused by cognitive deficits. By the 1960s, this position began to decrease as health professionals began to recognize the important effect the environment can have on an individual. Although this idea was considered somewhat speculative at the time, it began to prove its ground as it revealed that early attention to physical and psychological development could improve cognitive ability.
The implementation of this research leads to the development of the federal Head Start program. The reasoning behind it was to have poor children start on an “equal footing” with wealthier classmates to promote a better chance of succeeding in school and avoiding poverty in adulthood. Additionally, the program seeks to involve the family and the community that composes the child-rearing environment. Studies show a variety of results that promote both disadvantages and advantages. The idea that some of the advantages the Head Start program may disappear through elementary school is proven by some research investigations. On the other hand, other research studies demonstrate lasting benefits in areas of school achievement and adjustment.
Since the origin of the federal Head Start program in 1965, the program has provided significant results and tangible outcomes. Approximately 20 million children and their families have participated in the program in the past and about one million are enrolled each year. But besides its practical application, the Head Start has served as a platform from which research on early intervention has proliferated. This initiative has also led to the development of other services that focus on family support and parenthood education intending to promote a nurtured environment for the upcoming generations.
Link to article: https://www.apa.org/research/action/early