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Ever attended Head Start

Codes and Frequencies

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For children not known to be currently attending Head Start, HEADSTAREV identifies those who ever attended Head Start. Head Start is a federally-funded program designed to increase the school readiness of children in low income families.

For more detailed information about the program, users should consult the variable description for the complementary variable HEADSTARNOW, which identifies children under age 6 currently enrolled in Head Start.


The universe for HEADSTAREV changes considerably over time.


For 1997-2000, data were collected only for children age 6 and under, the age group served by Head Start (with the vast majority of enrollees age 3 or age 4). In 2001, the universe was expanded to include all persons under age 18 who were not currently enrolled in Head Start. For comparability over time, users should restrict the universe to children age 6 and under.

Because Head Start is targeted at preschool children, the data for 2001 forward on past Head Start enrollment for children age 7 to 17 is largely indicative of children's participation in the program some years ago (i.e., generally when they were age 3 or 4). Moreover, because eligibility for Head Start is largely dependent on having a family income below the poverty line, a "Yes" response for HEADSTAREV for children over age 6 is something of a (noncomprehensive) proxy indicator of poverty status when the child was of preschool age.


  • 1988: Sample persons under age 18.
  • 1997-2000: Persons age 6 and under who are not currently attending Head Start or for whom current Head Start attendance is unknown.
  • 2001-2018: Persons under age 18 who are not currently attending Head Start or for whom current Head Start attendance is unknown.


  • 1988, 1997-2018