Estimating Head Start Enrollment and Eligibility with Census Bureau Surveys

Lynda L. Laughlin, U.S. Census Bureau
Jessica W. Davis, U.S. Census Bureau

Head Start is one of the largest federally funded early education programs. Today, Head Start serves more than 900,000 children and has been shown to provide positive outcomes for children. However, estimating the number of children who are served by Head Start programs has not been successful. This study examines the quality and comparability of Head Start and early education data obtained from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), the American Community Survey (ACS), and the Current Population Survey (CPS). Preliminary analysis shows that SIPP under estimates the number of children in Head Start. We investigate if it is possible to indirectly estimate the number of children eligible for Head Start using the ACS or the CPS and if our estimates can be used to improve the SIPP data. Recommendations for how to collect higher quality data on Head Start and other child care issues will also be discussed.

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Presented in Session 47: Case Studies in Applied Demography