With lawmakers everywhere focused on cutting budgets, when asked questions about the value of Head Start, some folks involved in the program took the inquiry as a challenge.
Sure, some studies already suggest high-quality pre-K programs provide long-term benefits in the form of improved graduation rates, a reduced likelihood a child will commit a crime, and better odds of landing higher-paying jobs after graduation. But some districts report finding more immediate savings on education spending. They showed that high-quality prekindergarten programs kept some students out of special education when they began school, saving money districts would have spent on intensive, expensive services required for kids who hadn’t been in the same pre-K programs.
For example, in the Bremerton school district, schools didn’t have to provide individualized one-on-one instruction and time in remedial reading groups for some kids with disabilities, saving money on personnel. The district estimates it saves $800,000 a year on kids who have been through Head Start programs.
In Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, a report from last year shows students who went to full-day Head Start pre-K needed only half the special education services as their fellow kindergartners. Their study estimated a savings of $10,100 per child for each child who went to full day Head Start.
The savings have been the source of bragging rights for the National Head Start Association.
A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.