The Effects of Head Start Participation on Child Health from Kindergarten to the 5th Grade

Fuhua Zhai, Columbia University

The effects of Head Start on child health have been under-studied in the literature and a limited number of well-designed studies show some flaws in research methods. This study examines the effects of Head Start participation prior to kindergarten on child health outcomes from the fall kindergarten through the 5th grade using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 (ECLS-K) collected in fall kindergarten (1998), spring kindergarten (1999), 1st grade (spring 2000), 3rd grade (spring 2002), and 5th grade (spring 2004). Using advanced methods (propensity score matching and fixed effects) to address the issue of selection bias and to simulate random assignment with verified Head Start participation data, this study provides reliable findings to update and advance the evidence of Head Start effects on child health for researchers, policymakers, administrators, as well as practitioners.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 88: Policy and Child Health in the U.S.